Seasonal Dynamics of Pelagic Mycoplanktonic Communities: Interplay of Taxon Abundance, Temporal Occurrence, and Biotic Interactions

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Marine fungi are an important component of pelagic planktonic communities. However, it is not yet clear how individual fungal taxa are integrated in marine processes of the microbial loop and food webs. Most likely, biotic interactions play a major role in shaping the fungal community structure. Thus, the aim of our work was to identify possible biotic interactions of mycoplankton with phytoplankton and zooplankton groups and among fungi, and to investigate whether there is coherence between interactions and the dynamics, abundance and temporal occurrence of individual fungal OTUs. Marine surface water was sampled weekly over the course of 1 year, in the vicinity of the island of Helgoland in the German Bight (North Sea). The mycoplankton community was analyzed using 18S rRNA gene tag-sequencing and the identified dynamics were correlated to environmental data including phytoplankton, zooplankton, and abiotic factors. Finally, co-occurrence patterns of fungal taxa were detected with network analyses based on weighted topological overlaps (wTO). Of all abundant and persistent OTUs, 77% showed no biotic relations suggesting a saprotrophic lifestyle. Of all other fungal OTUs, nearly the half (44%) had at least one significant negative relationship, especially with zooplankton and other fungi, or to a lesser extent with phytoplankton. These findings suggest that mycoplankton OTUs are embedded into marine food web chains via highly complex and manifold relationships such as parasitism, predation, grazing, or allelopathy. Furthermore, about one third of all rare OTUs were part of a dense fungal co-occurrence network probably stabilizing the fungal community against environmental changes and acting as functional guilds or being involved in fungal cross-feeding. Placed in an ecological context, strong antagonistic relationships of the mycoplankton community with other components of the plankton suggest that: (i) there is a top-down control by fungi on zooplankton and phytoplankton; (ii) fungi serve as a food source for zooplankton and thereby transfer nutrients and organic material; (iii) the dynamics of fungi harmful to other plankton groups are controlled by antagonistic fungal taxa.

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DOI 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01305

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Banos, S. , Gysi, D. M. , Richter-Heitmann, T. , Glöckner, F. O. , Boersma, M. , Wiltshire, K. H. , Gerdts, G. , Wichels, A. and Reich, M. (2020): Seasonal Dynamics of Pelagic Mycoplanktonic Communities: Interplay of Taxon Abundance, Temporal Occurrence, and Biotic Interactions , Frontiers in Microbiology, 11 , p. 1305 . doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01305

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