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Applying DNA metabarcoding to monitor long-distance dispersal to the South Pole


Antarctica remains one of the most pristine ecosystems on Earth. However, concern exists on the risk of the new arrival of non-Antarctic plants thanks to the opening of new dispersal routes. In the Antarctic Peninsula, researchers have referred to the deposition of pollen and spores as a good indicator of the direction and frequency of potential long-distance transport of non-Antarctic plants. The aim of this project is to determine the pollen taxa deposited on the Antarctic Peninsula and identifying their potential origin. We propose to undertake DNA-based identification of a set of traps located across in the Antarctic Peninsula during the period (2015-2021). This study will address a key knowledge gap within plant dispersal, namely the occurrence of long-distance transport from neighbouring continents to the Antarctic Peninsula, which is free (only the presence of two grasses) of pollen producing flowering plants.


With this project we are collaborating with Dr. Tom Hart (Oxford Brooks University, with funding from Darwin Plus and in-kind support from Quark Expeditions Ltd) and other researchers from University of Southampton, Universitat de Barcelona, and CSIC.


Sandra Nogué

PI / Team leader

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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Tom Hart


Oxford Brookes University


Xaali O'Reilly


Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Sandra Garcés

Postdoc & Adj. Prof.


Universitat de Barcelona

Core team

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