The foods we eat contain microorganisms that we ingest alongside the food. Industrialized food sy ... Read more
The foods we eat contain microorganisms that we ingest alongside the food. Industrialized food systems offer great advantages from a safety point of view, but have also been accused of depleting the diversity of the human microbiota with negative implications for human health. In contrast, artisanal traditional foods are potential sources of a diverse food microbiota. Traditional foods of the Greenlandic Inuit are comprised of animal-sourced foods prepared in the natural environment and are often consumed raw. These foods, some of which are on the verge of extinction, have not previously been microbiologically character- ized. We mapped the microbiota of foods stemming from traditional Inuit land-based hunting activities. The foods included in the current study are dried muskox and caribou meat, cari- bou rumen and intestinal content as well as larval parasites from caribou hides, all traditional Inuit foods. This study shows that traditional drying methods are efficient for limiting micro- bial growth through desiccation. The results also show the rumen content of the caribou to be a highly diverse source of microbes with potential for degradation of plants. Finally, a number of parasites were shown to be included in the biodiversity of the assessed traditional foods. Taken together, the results map out a diverse source of ingested microbes and para- sites that originate from the natural environment. These results have implications for under- standing the nature-sourced traditional Inuit diet, which is in contrast to current day diet recommendations as well as modern industrialized food systems.
The practices of preparing traditional foods in the Arctic are rapidly disappearing. Traditional ... Read more
The practices of preparing traditional foods in the Arctic are rapidly disappearing. Traditional foods of the Arctic represent a rarity among food studies in that they are meat-sourced and prepared in non-industrial settings. These foods, generally consumed without any heating step prior to consumption, harbor an insofar undescribed microbiome. The food-associated microbiomes have implications not only with respect to disease risk, but might also positively influence host health by transferring a yet unknown diversity of live microbes to the human gastrointestinal tract. Here we report the first study of the microbial composition of traditionally dried fish prepared according to Greenlandic traditions and their industrial counterparts. We show that dried capelin prepared according to traditional methods have microbiomes clearly different from industrially prepared capelin, which also have more homogenous microbiomes than traditionally prepared capelin. Interestingly, the locally preferred type of traditionally dried capelin, described to be tastier than other traditionally dried capelin, contains bacteria that potentially confer distinct taste. Finally, we show that dried cod have comparably more homogenous microbiomes when compared to capelin and that in general, the environment of drying is a major determinant of the microbial composition of these indigenous food products.
Globally emitted contaminants accumulate in the Arctic and are stored in the frozen environments ... Read more
Globally emitted contaminants accumulate in the Arctic and are stored in the frozen environments of the cryosphere. Climate change influences the release of these contaminants through elevated melt rates, resulting in increased contamination locally. Our understanding of how biological processes interact with contamination in the Arctic is limited. Through shotgun metagenomic data and binned genomes from metagenomes we show that microbial communities, sampled from multiple surface ice locations on the Greenland ice sheet, have the potential for resistance to and degradation of contaminants. The microbial potential to degrade anthropogenic contaminants, such as toxic and persistent polychlorinated biphenyls, was found to be spatially variable and not limited to regions close to human activities. Binned genomes showed close resemblance to microorganisms isolated from contaminated habitats. These results indicate that, from a microbiological perspective, the Greenland ice sheet cannot be seen as a pristine environment.
The microbial abundance and diversity in snow on ice floes at three sites near the North Pole was ... Read more
The microbial abundance and diversity in snow on ice floes at three sites near the North Pole was assessed using quantitative PCR and 454 pyrosequencing. Abundance of 16S rRNA genes in the samples ranged between 43 and 248 gene copies per millilitre of melted snow. A total of 291,331 sequences were obtained through 454 pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes, resulting in 984 OTUs at 97 % identity. Two sites were dominated by Cyanobacteria (72 and 61 %, respectively), including chloroplasts. The third site differed by consisting of 95 % Proteobacteria. Principal component analysis showed that the three sites clustered together when compared to the underlying environments of sea ice and ocean water. The Shannon indices ranged from 2.226 to 3.758, and the Chao1 indices showed species richness between 293 and 353 for the three samples. The relatively low abundances and diversity found in the samples indicate a lower rate of microbial input to this snow habitat compared to snow in the proximity of terrestrial and anthropogenic sources of microorganisms. The differences in species composition and diversity between the sites show that apparently similar snow habitats contain a large variation in biodiversity, although the differences were smaller than the differences to the underlying environment. The results support the idea that a globally distributed community exists in snow and that the global snow community can in part be attributed to microbial input from the atmosphere.