The total number of bacterial cells was determined following the
Terrestrial, ice-free environments in Antarctica are restricted to only ~ 0.34% of the entire Antarctic continent, equating to ~ 45 000 km2, with the reminder permanently covered by glaciers and snow (Convey et al., 2009b). Most of these ice-free environments occur as isolated patches of ground scattered along the continental coasts and relatively few are found inland. These locations are characterized by frigid climate with very low temperatures, humidity and MPI-0479605 and strong katabatic winds. Due to such extreme climatic conditions, Antarctic terrestrial environments are some of the harshest on Earth. Moreover, many of the Antarctic ice-free areas have emerged from retreating glaciers during the past few thousand years and glacial erosion is still the dominant land-forming factor. Therefore, the ground is mostly barren of any visible vegetation and is primarily covered with glacier till, unsorted rock rubble, gravel and scattered erratic boulders (Campbell and Claridge, 1987 and Beyer and B?lter, 2002).