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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 89:143-155 (2023)  -  DOI:

Exploring the diversity of microeukaryotic communities in New England tide pools

Adri K. Grow1, Robin S. Sleith1, Taylor R. Sehein1, Michaela Labare1, Laura A. Katz1,2,*

1Department of Biological Sciences, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts 01063, USA
2Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Though historically understudied, due in large part to most species being uncultivable, microbial eukaryotes (i.e. protists) are abundant and widespread across diverse habitats. Recent advances in molecular techniques, including metabarcoding, allow for the characterization of poorly known protist lineages. This study surveys the diversity of SAR (Stramenopila, Alveolata, and Rhizaria), a major eukaryotic clade that is estimated to represent about half of all eukaryotic diversity. SAR lineages use varied metabolic strategies like mixotrophy in dinoflagellates (Alveolata), parasitism in apicomplexans (Alveolata) and labyrinthulids (Stramenopila), and life cycle stages that include encystment and attachment (e.g. in ciliates, Alveolata) to survive in highly dynamic habitats. Using metabarcoding primers designed specifically to target a portion of the 18S small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU-rRNA) gene of SAR lineages, we compare protist community composition from tide pools in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA. We characterize over 500 lineages, here operational taxonomic units (OTUs), many of which are found abundant in the tide pool environment. We also find that communities vary by month sampled and exhibit patterns by size (i.e. macro-, micro-, and nano-sized). Taken together, these data allow us to further catalog protist diversity in extreme environments (e.g. those subject to extreme fluctuations in temperature and salinity during tidal cycles). Such data are critical in the explorations of biodiversity patterns among microorganisms on our rapidly changing planet.

KEY WORDS: Protist · Metabarcoding · Community analysis · 18S rRNA · Stramenopila · Alveolata · Rhizaria

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Cite this article as: Grow AK, Sleith RS, Sehein TR, Labare M, Katz LA (2023) Exploring the diversity of microeukaryotic communities in New England tide pools. Aquat Microb Ecol 89:143-155.

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