AME 43:165-175 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/ame043165

Picoeukaryote diversity in coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean

Alexandra Z. Worden*

Marine Biology and Fisheries Division, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33134, USA

ABSTRACT: The extraordinary molecular phylogenetic diversity of picoeukaryotes and their contributions to marine processes have been highlighted recently. Herein, picoeukaryotic diversity in the coastal Pacific Ocean is characterized for the first time. Close to full length small subunit ribosomal RNA (ssu rRNA) gene amplicons were cloned and sequenced from size fractionated samples (<2 µm) taken between September 2000 and October 2001. Sequences belonging to the order Mamiellales were abundant, with Micromonas pusilla-like sequences in all 5 libraries (4 operational taxonomic units, OTUs, at ≥99% sequence similarity), Ostreococcus in 4 (1 OTU) and Bathycoccus in 2 (1 OTU). Phylogenetic reconstruction showed distinct Micromonas clades at this site (although not for other Mamiellales), supporting the idea that the designation M. pusilla harbors cryptic species. In combination with picophytoplankton dynamics previously reported for the same period, the data indicates that picoplanktonic primary production at this site is likely to be dominated by prasinophytes. Furthermore, a Micromonas-clade with no cultured representatives was identified bearing highest identity to Sargasso Sea shotgun clone sequences. Comparison of the Pacific sequences with the shotgun clones showed Ostreococcus and Micromonas at 1 Sargasso site with elevated chlorophyll (chl) levels, but not at other Sargasso sites. Other Pacific clones were primarily Novel Alveolate Group II, which were highly diverse based on OTU analyses. Novel Alveolate Group I, Ciliophora, Cercozoa-like and stramenopile sequences were also retrieved. Although picoeukaryotic diversity has been characterized in only 1 other Pacific Ocean sample (equatorial Pacific), most stramenopile and alveolate sequences corresponded to previously identified phylogenetic clades from studies conducted in other oceans and for which no cultured representatives exist.

KEY WORDS: Picoeukaryotes · Picophytoplankton · Picoplankton · Diversity · Micromonas

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