Metagenomic analyses of the late Pleistocene permafrost – additional tools for reconstruction of environmental conditions
Abstract. A comparative analysis of the metagenomes from two 30 000-year-old permafrost samples, one of lake-alluvial origin and the other from late Pleistocene Ice Complex sediments, revealed significant differences within microbial communities. The late Pleistocene Ice Complex sediments (which have been characterized by the absence of methane with lower values of redox potential and Fe2+ content) showed a low abundance of methanogenic archaea and enzymes from both the carbon and nitrogen cycles, but a higher abundance of enzymes associated with the sulfur cycle. The metagenomic and geochemical analyses described in the paper provide evidence that the formation of the sampled late Pleistocene Ice Complex sediments likely took place under much more aerobic conditions than lake-alluvial sediments.