NITROLIMIT: Life at the Edge: Define the Boundaries of the Nitrogen Cycle in the Extreme Antarctic Environments
Nitrogen is a fundamental element for living and its biogeochemical cycle is almost entirely microbial mediated. Covering all major steps of this cycle across different terrestrial habitats in Antarctica Dry Valleys (DVs), this project will enable to outline the limits of biogeochemical activity of resident microbial communities as well as to understand in what way different N transformations are established according to the influenced abiotic factors. It will represent an important breakthrough regarding ecosystem functioning, giving new insights on the ecological role of microorganisms in the regulation of N cycle in one of the most extreme environments on Earth. Combining different methodologies (biogeochemical/molecular) and crossing different types of data (genomic/transcriptomic/biogeochemical) the results of this proposal will allow to trace the major ecological networks that are behind DVs ecosystem and to screen the energy and matter fluxes across the ecosystem.