Integrating morphology and metagenomics to understand taxonomic variability of Amphisorus (Foraminifera, Miliolida) from Western Australia and Indonesia

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Foraminifera are a group of mostly marine protists with high taxonomic diversity. Species identification is often complex, as both morphological and molecular approaches can be challenging due to a lack of unique characters and reference sequences. An integrative approach combining state of the art morphological and molecular tools is therefore promising. In this study, we analysed large benthic Foraminifera of the genus Amphisorus from Western Australia and Indonesia. Based on previous findings on high morphological variability observed in the Soritidae and the discontinuous distribution of Amphisorus along the coast of western Australia, we expected to find multiple morphologically and genetically unique Amphisorus types. In order to gain detailed insights into the diversity of Amphisorus, we applied micro CT scanning and shotgun metagenomic sequencing. We identified four distinct morphotypes of Amphisorus, two each in Australia and Indonesia, and showed that each morphotype is a distinct genotype. Furthermore, metagenomics revealed the presence of three dinoflagellate symbiont clades. The most common symbiont was Fugacium Fr5, and we could show that its genotypes were mostly specific to Amphisorus morphotypes. Finally, we assembled the microbial taxa associated with the two Western Australian morphotypes, and analysed their microbial community composition. Even though each Amphisorus morphotype harboured distinct bacterial communities, sampling location had a stronger influence on bacterial community composition, and we infer that the prokaryotic community is primarily shaped by the microhabitat rather than host identity. The integrated approach combining analyses of host morphology and genetics, dinoflagellate symbionts, and associated microbes leads to the conclusion that we identified distinct, yet undescribed taxa of Amphisorus. We argue that the combination of morphological and molecular methods provides unprecedented insights into the diversity of foraminifera, which paves the way for a deeper understanding of their biodiversity, and facilitates future taxonomic and ecological work.

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DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0244616

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Frontalini, F. , Macher, J. N. , Prazeres, M. , Taudien, S. , Jompa, J. , Sadekov, A. and Renema, W. (2021): Integrating morphology and metagenomics to understand taxonomic variability of Amphisorus (Foraminifera, Miliolida) from Western Australia and Indonesia , PLOS ONE, 16 (1), e0244616 . doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244616

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