A three-scale analysis of bacterial communities involved in rocks colonization and soil formation in high mountain environments

Alfonso Esposito, Sonia Ciccazzo, Luigimaria Borruso, Stefan Zerbe, Daniele Daffonchio, Lorenzo Brusetti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Alpha and beta diversities of the bacterial communities growing on rock surfaces, proto-soils, riparian sediments, lichen thalli, and water springs biofilms in a glacier foreland were studied. We used three molecular based techniques to allow a deeper investigation at different taxonomic resolutions: denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, length heterogeneity-PCR, and automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis. Bacterial communities were mainly composed of Acidobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Cyanobacteria with distinct variations among sites. Proteobacteria were more represented in sediments, biofilms, and lichens; Acidobacteria were mostly found in proto-soils; and Cyanobacteria on rocks. Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes were mainly found in biofilms. UniFrac P values confirmed a significant difference among different matrices. Significant differences (P < 0.001) in beta diversity were observed among the different matrices at the genus-species level, except for lichens and rocks which shared a more similar community structure, while at deep taxonomic resolution two distinct bacterial communities between lichens and rocks were found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-479
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Bacterial communities
  • Biodiversity
  • Fingerprinting methods
  • Glacier foreland
  • High mountain environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Cite this