, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 13-23
Date: 01 Oct 2013

Winter–Summer Succession of Unicellular Eukaryotes in a Meso-eutrophic Coastal System

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The objective of this study was to explore the succession of planktonic unicellular eukaryotes by means of 18S rRNA gene tag pyrosequencing in the eastern English Channel (EEC) during the winter to summer transition. The 59 most representative (>0.1 %, representing altogether 95 % of total reads), unique operational taxonomic units (OTUs) from all samples belonged to 18 known high-level taxonomic groups and 1 unaffiliated clade. The five most abundant OTUs (69.2 % of total reads) belonged to Dinophyceae, Cercozoa, Haptophyceae, marine alveolate group I, and Fungi. Cluster and network analysis between samples distinguished the winter, the pre-bloom, the Phaeocystis globosa bloom and the post-bloom early summer conditions. The OTUs-based network revealed that P. globosa showed a relatively low number of connections—most of them negative—with all other OTUs. Fungi were linked to all major taxonomic groups, except Dinophyceae. Cercozoa mostly co-occurred with the Fungi, the Bacillariophyceae and several of the miscellaneous OTUs. This study provided a more detailed exploration into the planktonic succession pattern of the EEC due to its increased depth of taxonomic sampling over previous efforts based on classical monitoring observations. Data analysis implied that the food web concept in a coastal system based on predator–prey (e.g. grazer–phytoplankton) relationships is just a part of the ecological picture; and those organisms exploiting a variety of strategies, such as saprotrophy and parasitism, are persistent and abundant members of the community.