As global warming persists, it’s becoming clear that even the smallest forms of life need protection, including in the cold deserts of Antarctica. But scientists know very little about the microbes that make their home in Antarctic soil, leaving the picture of biodiversity and ecological change in this region incomplete. Now, researchers from Australia are filling in the blanks. They’ve conducted the first-ever microbial biodiversity report for two Antarctic regions: the extremely dry Vestfold Hills and the Windmill Islands. Bacterial communities in both areas were dominated by microbes of the metabolically and physiologically diverse phylum Actinobacteria, but the Vestfold Hills showed a higher prevalence of members of the Bacteriodetes phylum, likely due to the saltier soils found in this region. Overall, the observed diversity of community members suggests that microbes have found a way to share their environment equitably. Understanding how that harmony is disturbed by a changing climate could help direct conservation efforts to where they’re needed most.