Phylogeny and lipid profiles of snow-algae isolated from Norwegian red-snow microbiomes

Hirono Suzuki, Alexandre Dtain, Youngjin Park, Kiron Viswanath, Ren H. Wijffels, Nathalie Leborgne-Castel, Lenka Procházková, Chris J. Hulatt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Snow algae blooms often form green or red coloured patches in melting alpine and polar snowfields worldwide, yet little is known about their biology, biogeography, and species diversity. We investigated eight isolates collected from red snow in northern Norway, using a combination of morphology, 18S rRNA gene and internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) genetic markers. Phylogenetic and ITS2 rRNA secondary structure analyses assigned six isolates to the species Raphidonema nivale, Deuterostichococcus epilithicus, Chloromonas reticulata, and Xanthonema bristolianum. Two novel isolates belonging to the family Stichococcaceae (ARK-S05-19) and the genus Chloromonas (ARK-S08-19) were identified as potentially new species. In laboratory cultivation, differences in the growth rate and fatty acid profiles were observed between the strains. Chlorophyta were characterized by abundant C18:3n-3 fatty-acids with increases in C18:1n-9 in the stationary phase, whilst Xanthonema (Ochrophyta) was characterized by a large proportion of C20:5n-3, with increases in C16:1n-7 in the stationary phase. In a further experiment, lipid droplet formation was studied in C. reticulata at the single-cell level using imaging flow cytometry. Our study establishes new cultures of snow algae, reveals novel data on their biodiversity and biogeography, and provides an initial characterization of physiological traits that shape natural communities and their ecophysiological properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiad057
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • 18S rRNA
  • fatty acids
  • imaging flow cytometry
  • ITS2 rRNA
  • microalgae
  • phylogeny


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