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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 69:59-67 (2013)  -  DOI:

Marine fungi may benefit from ocean acidification

Evamaria Krause1,*, Antje Wichels1, Luis Giménez2, Gunnar Gerdts

1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Kurpromenade 201, 27498 Helgoland, Germany
2School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University UK, Askew Street, Menai Bridge, Anglesey LL59 5AB, UK

ABSTRACT: Recent studies have discussed the consequences of ocean acidification for bacterial processes and diversity. However, the decomposition of complex substrates in marine environments, a key part of the flow of energy in ecosystems, is largely mediated by marine fungi. Although marine fungi have frequently been reported to prefer low pH levels, this group has been neglected in ocean acidification research. We present the first investigation of direct pH effects on marine fungal abundance and community structure. In microcosm experiments repeated in 2 consecutive years, we incubated natural North Sea water for 4 wk at in situ seawater pH (8.10 and 8.26), pH 7.82 and pH 7.67. Fungal abundance was determined by colony forming unit (cfu) counts, and fungal community structure was investigated by the culture-independent fingerprint method Fungal Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (F-ARISA). Furthermore, pH at the study site was determined over a yearly cycle. Fungal cfu were on average 9 times higher at pH 7.82 and 34 times higher at pH 7.67 compared to in situ seawater pH, and we observed fungal community shifts predominantly at pH 7.67. Currently, surface seawater pH at Helgoland Roads remains >8.0 throughout the year; thus we cannot exclude that fungal responses may differ in regions regularly experiencing lower pH values. However, our results suggest that under realistic levels of ocean acidification, marine fungi will reach greater importance in marine biogeochemical cycles. The rise of this group of organisms will affect a variety of biotic interactions in the sea.

KEY WORDS: pH reduction · F-ARISA · Helgoland Roads · Microcosms

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Cite this article as: Krause E, Wichels A, Giménez L, Gerdts G (2013) Marine fungi may benefit from ocean acidification. Aquat Microb Ecol 69:59-67.

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