Glaciers and ice sheets may seem dead and empty to the naked eye, but the dust that coats them, cryoconite, is a hotspot for microbes and microbe-driven biogeochemical cycling. However, little is known about the geographical diversity in cryoconite microbial communities. Most cryoconite research focuses on polar microbial communities, and reports on Asia’s high mountain glaciers are rare. A recent metagenomics study found key metabolic and light harvesting differences between polar and Asian alpine cryoconite microbiota. The Asian cryoconite community had more abundant genes for denitrification, suggesting that denitrification is enhanced there compared to polar regions. While Asian cryoconite is dominated by multiple cyanobacterial lineages that possess phycoerythrin, a green-light harvesting protein, polar cryoconite is dominated by a single cyanobacterial species (Phormidesmis priestleyi) that lacks phycoerythrin. Latitude and elevation can influence which light wavelengths are available for photosynthetic producers like cyanobacteria. So, while more research is needed, these results suggest environmental factors are driving the observed differences between locations and add to the body of knowledge on biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles in glacier ecosystems.