Data from: Evaluation of the mycobiome of ballast water and implications for fungal pathogen distribution


Global marine transport via sea vessels has the potential to alter the geographic range of marine microorganisms. One mechanism by which fungal species could be dispersed within the marine habitat is through the release of ballast water, water used to stabilize ships during transport. Recent culture-independent studies have investigated the bacterial portion of the microbiome of ballast water but no studies have examined the mycobiome in detail. In addition, no study has focused on the potential of ballast water to contain and spread fungal pathogens. Therefore, sixty ballast and harbor samples from four major ports and five ocean samples were examined using culture-independent techniques to: 1) determine if ballast water contained fungal pathogens that could impact human society and coastal marine wildlife, and 2) determine the potential risk to which fungal taxa within ballast water could reside within coastal ecosystems. Results support that ballast water contained fungal taxa that are relevant human and marine fish pathogens. Fungal genera were identified that contain known coral and coastal plant pathogen species , however species level identification for this potential pathogens could not be conclusively resolved . Community and phylogenetic analyses suggest that ballast water and harbor mycobiomes contain similar species suggesting that environmental filtering will not inhibit the spread of fungal taxa in ballast water into harbor ecosystems. This study draws attention to the potential risks of transporting and releasing ballast water into foreign harbors and suggests further study is needed to mitigate the potential spread of these fungal pathogen.

Data Access

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gunsch, C

Published Date

  • April 10, 2020

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.7924/r4t72cv5v