Annual Partitioning Patterns of Labyrinthulomycetes Protists Reveal Their Multifaceted Role in Marine Microbial Food Webs.
Heterotrophic microbes play a key role in remineralizing organic material in the coastal ocean. While there is a significant body of literature examining heterotrophic bacterioplankton and phytoplankton communities, much less is known about the diversity, dynamics, and ecology of eukaryotic heterotrophs. Here, we focus on the Labyrinthulomycetes, a fungus-like protistan group whose biomass can exceed that of the bacterioplankton in coastal waters. We examined their diversity and community structure in a weekly temperate coastal ocean time series. Their seasonal community patterns were related to temperature, insolation, dissolved inorganic carbon, fungal abundance, ammonia, chlorophyll a
, pH, and other environmental variables. Similar to the bacterioplankton, annual community patterns of the Labyrinthulomycetes were dominated by a few persistent taxa with summer or winter preferences. However, like the patterns of fungi at this site, the majority of the Labyrinthulomycetes phylotypes occurred mostly as short, reoccurring, season-specific blooms. Furthermore, some specific phylotypes of Labyrinthulomycetes displayed time-lagged correlations or cooccurrences with bacterial, algal, or fungal phylotypes, suggesting their potentially multifaceted involvement in the marine food webs. Overall, this study reports niche partitioning between closely related Labyrinthulomycetes and identifies distinct ecotypes and temporal patterns compared to bacterioplankton and fungi.IMPORTANCE
Increasing evidence has shown that heterotrophic microeukaryotes are an important component in global marine ecosystems, while their diversity and ecological functions remain largely unknown. Without appropriately incorporating these organisms into the food web models, our current understanding of marine microbial community ecology is incomplete, which may further hamper broader studies of biogeochemistry and climate change. This study focuses on a major group of unicellular fungus-like protists (Labyrinthulomycetes) and reveals their distinct annual community patterns relative to fungi and bacteria. Results of our observations provide new information on the community structure and ecology of this protistan group and shed light on the intricate ecological roles of unicellular heterotrophic eukaryotes in the coastal oceans.
Xie, N; Hunt, DE; Johnson, ZI; He, Y; Wang, G
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