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Filamentous types from the order Oscillatoriales, particularly the species Phormidium autumnale , have widely diverse morphotypes, which dominate in Arctic aquatic microbial mats and wet soils. We cultivated 25 strains of Ph . autumnale from Svalbard and compared them with available strains from surrounding regions. The comparison of strains, based on 16S rDNA and 16S−23S rDNA intergenic spacer sequences, revealed the similarity of strains from Ellesmere Island, the Canadian Arctic and Abisko, Sweden with strains from Svalbard. The rate of colonization of Ph. atumnale from aquatic habitats is relatively high and we suggest geese as a main transmission vector from surrounding lands. Strains of Ph. autumnale were positioned in the phylogenetic tree according to their occurrence in similar habitats. An apparent clustering factor is the duration of availability of water in lakes and long−lasting streams in contrast to rapid and repeated desiccation in soil and on wetted rock in the spray zone of waterfalls. Strains that grow in very cold waters just above the melting point of snow or ice form a distinct genetic group. The strains investigated in this study show morphological similarity in the shape of the trichomes of the studied specimens. Overall, the cell diameter, except for terminal cells, of our strains varied between 3 and 10 μm. Comparison of 16S rDNA sequences of the genus Ph. autumnale with the previously published definition of the species Microcoleus vaginatus revealed the identity of these two species.
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