The molecular diversity of freshwater picoeukaryotes reveals high occurrence of putative parasitoids in the plankton

Abstract : Eukaryotic microorganisms have been undersampled in biodiversity studies in freshwater environments. We present an original 18S rDNA survey of freshwater picoeukaryotes sampled during spring/summer 2005, complementing an earlier study conducted in autumn 2004 in Lake Pavin (France). These studies were designed to detect the small unidentified heterotrophic flagellates (HF, 0.6-5 microm) which are considered the main bacterivores in aquatic systems. Alveolates, Fungi and Stramenopiles represented 65% of the total diversity and differed from the dominant groups known from microscopic studies. Fungi and Telonemia taxa were restricted to the oxic zone which displayed two fold more operational taxonomic units (OTUs) than the oxycline. Temporal forcing also appeared as a driving force in the diversification within targeted organisms. Several sequences were not similar to those in databases and were considered as new or unsampled taxa, some of which may be typical of freshwater environments. Two taxa known from marine systems, the genera Telonema and Amoebophrya, were retrieved for the first time in our freshwater study. The analysis of potential trophic strategies displayed among the targeted HF highlighted the dominance of parasites and saprotrophs, and provided indications that these organisms have probably been wrongfully regarded as bacterivores in previous studies. A theoretical exercise based on a new 'parasite/saprotroph-dominated HF hypothesis' demonstrates that the inclusion of parasites and saprotrophs may increase the functional role of the microbial loop as a link for carbon flows in pelagic ecosystems. New interesting perspectives in aquatic microbial ecology are thus opened.
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Emilie Lefèvre, Balbine Roussel, Christian Amblard, Télesphore Sime-Ngando. The molecular diversity of freshwater picoeukaryotes reveals high occurrence of putative parasitoids in the plankton. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2008, 3 (6), pp.e2324. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0002324⟩. ⟨hal-00526223⟩

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