A High-Resolution Time Series Reveals Distinct Seasonal Patterns of Planktonic Fungi at a Temperate Coastal Ocean Site (Beaufort, North Carolina, USA).
There is a growing awareness of the ecological and biogeochemical importance of fungi in coastal marine systems. While highly diverse fungi have been discovered in these marine systems, still, little is known about their seasonality and associated drivers in coastal waters. Here, we examined fungal communities over 3 years of weekly sampling at a dynamic, temperate coastal site (Pivers Island Coastal Observatory [PICO], Beaufort, NC, USA). Fungal 18S rRNA gene abundance, operational taxonomic unit (OTU) richness, and Shannon's diversity index values exhibited prominent seasonality. Fungal 18S rRNA gene copies peaked in abundance during the summer and fall, with positive correlations with chlorophyll a, SiO4, and oxygen saturation. Diversity (measured using internal transcribed spacer [ITS] libraries) was highest during winter and lowest during summer; it was linked to temperature, pH, chlorophyll a, insolation, salinity, and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). Fungal communities derived from ITS libraries were dominated throughout the year by Ascomycota, with contributions from Basidiomycota, Chytridiomycota, and Mucoromycotina, and their seasonal patterns linked to water temperature, light, and the carbonate system. Network analysis revealed that while cooccurrence and exclusion existed within fungus networks, exclusion dominated the fungus-and-phytoplankton network, in contrast with reported pathogenic and nutritional interactions between marine phytoplankton and fungi. Compared with the seasonality of bacterial communities in the same samples, the timing, extent, and associated environmental variables for fungi community are unique. These results highlight the fungal seasonal dynamics in coastal water and improve our understanding of the ecology of planktonic fungi.IMPORTANCE Coastal fungal dynamics were long assumed to be due to terrestrial inputs; here, a high-resolution time series reveals strong, repeating annual patterns linked to in situ environmental conditions, arguing for a resident coastal fungal community shaped by environmental factors. These seasonal patterns do, however, differ from those observed in the bacterioplankton at the same site; e.g., fungal diversity peaks in winter, whereas bacterial diversity maxima occur in the spring and fall. While the dynamics of these communities are linked to water temperature and insolation, fungi are also influenced by the carbonate system (pH and DIC). As both fungi and heterotrophic bacteria are thought to be key organic-material metabolizers, differences in their environmental drivers may offer clues as to which group dominates secondary production at this dynamic site. Overall, this study suggests the unique ecological roles of mycoplankton and their potentially broad niche complementarities to other microbial groups in the coastal ocean.
Duan, Y; Xie, N; Song, Z; Ward, CS; Yung, C-M; Hunt, DE; Johnson, ZI; Wang, G
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