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Protist diversity in suboxic and sulfidic waters of the Black Sea

Authors

  • Claudia Wylezich,

    Corresponding author
    1. IOW-Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Department of Biological Oceanography, Seestraße 15, 18119 Rostock, Germany
      E-mail claudia.wylezich@io-warnemuende.de; Tel. (+49) 381 5197 3434; Fax (+49) 381 5197 440.
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  • Klaus Jürgens

    1. IOW-Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Department of Biological Oceanography, Seestraße 15, 18119 Rostock, Germany
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E-mail claudia.wylezich@io-warnemuende.de; Tel. (+49) 381 5197 3434; Fax (+49) 381 5197 440.

Summary

The oxic–anoxic transition zone of the Black Sea comprises a large suboxic zone as well as anoxic and sulfidic waters. While the prokaryotes and biogeochemical cycles that characterize this zone have been frequently studied, little is known about the diversity or ecology of its microbial eukaryotes. Here, we present the first broad qualitative report of the protist species composition in the Black Sea redoxcline using molecular tools. Fingerprint analysis from the whole redoxcline revealed a complex community structure of metabolically active protists with distinct shifts along the redox gradient. Additionally, 18S rRNA gene clone libraries were used to compare protist species composition of suboxic and sulfidic water layers. Among the ciliates, sequences related to Pleuronema and Strombidium were dominant in both water layers whereas sequences affiliated with anaerobic plagiopylids and Cyclidium were detected only in the sulfidic zone. Among the flagellates, mainly stramenopiles (mostly bicosoecids and chrysophytes) occurred throughout the redoxcline. In the sulfidic zone we found stramenopile sequences but also euglenozoans, jakobids and choanoflagellates that were related to clonal sequences from other anoxic marine habitats, thus indicating the existence of globally distributed groups of anoxic flagellates. Higher species diversity in the sulfidic zone and about twice as many novel sequence types of ciliates and stramenopiles compared with the suboxic layer emphasizes the importance of anoxic, sulfidic waters as habitat for high protist diversity although the function of these organisms is yet unknown.

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