The seasonal snowpack of the temperate glaciers are sources of diverse microbial inoculi. However, the microbial ecology of the tropical glacial surfaces is endangered, hence poses an extinction threat to some populations of some microbes due to rapid loss of the glacier mass. The aim of this study was to isolate and phylogenetically characterise the prokaryotes from the seasonal snow of Lewis glacier in Mt. Kenya. Snow samples were inoculated into Difco™ R2A Agar and BG-11 medium. Genomic DNA of seventeen representative axenic isolates was extracted using the mixture of MP FastDNA soil kit and the 16S rDNA gene region partially sequenced. The 16S rDNA gene sequences were blastn analyzed against the Genbank database and phylogenetic analysis was performed using MEGA 6 software. Phylogenetic analysis grouped the isolates into three phyla: Firmicutes, Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria. Isolates were affiliated with the genera Bacillus (53%), Stenotrophomonas (23.4%), Cryobacterium (5.9%), Paenibacillus (5.9%), Subtercola (5.9%) and Arthrobacter (5.9%). The results confirm that the seasonal tropical snowpack of Lewis glacier is dominated by the general terrestrial prokaryotes and a few glacier and snow specialist species.
Key words: Seasonal snowpack, tropical glacier, prokaryotes, 16S rDNA.
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