Microbial Ecology

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 295–304 | Cite as

Fungi Sailing the Arctic Ocean: Speciose Communities in North Atlantic Driftwood as Revealed by High-Throughput Amplicon Sequencing

  • Teppo Rämä
  • Marie L. Davey
  • Jenni Nordén
  • Rune Halvorsen
  • Rakel Blaalid
  • Geir H. Mathiassen
  • Inger G. Alsos
  • Håvard Kauserud
Fungal Microbiology


High amounts of driftwood sail across the oceans and provide habitat for organisms tolerating the rough and saline environment. Fungi have adapted to the extremely cold and saline conditions which driftwood faces in the high north. For the first time, we applied high-throughput sequencing to fungi residing in driftwood to reveal their taxonomic richness, community composition, and ecology in the North Atlantic. Using pyrosequencing of ITS2 amplicons obtained from 49 marine logs, we found 807 fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) based on clustering at 97 % sequence similarity cut-off level. The phylum Ascomycota comprised 74 % of the OTUs and 20 % belonged to Basidiomycota. The richness of basidiomycetes decreased with prolonged submersion in the sea, supporting the general view of ascomycetes being more extremotolerant. However, more than one fourth of the fungal OTUs remained unassigned to any fungal class, emphasising the need for better DNA reference data from the marine habitat. Different fungal communities were detected in coniferous and deciduous logs. Our results highlight that driftwood hosts a considerably higher fungal diversity than currently known. The driftwood fungal community is not a terrestrial relic but a speciose assemblage of fungi adapted to the stressful marine environment and different kinds of wooden substrates found in it.


454 sequencing Metabarcoding Marine fungi Marine wooden substrates Diversity Community ecology Biosystematics 



The Norwegian marine biobank, Marbank, provided logistic support and University of Tromsø the Arctic University of Norway and University of Oslo financial support. Rahman Mankettikkara kindly provided temperature and salinity data, Michael Greenacre statistical advice. Analyses were partly run on the Lifeportal and the Abel Cluster ( at the University of Oslo.

Compliance with Ethical Standard

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

248_2016_778_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (454 kb)
Fig. S1 Occurrence of the 50 most frequent OTUs in the 44 logs included in the community analysis (PDF 453 kb)
248_2016_778_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (196 kb)
Table S1 Explanatory variables recorded for the driftwood logs, their explanation and statistical properties (PDF 195 kb)
248_2016_778_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (18 kb)
Table S2 Measured values of explanatory variables for the 44 logs included in the community analyses (XLSX 18 kb)
248_2016_778_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (81 kb)
Table S3 OTU matrix used in the community analyses (XLSX 81 kb)
248_2016_778_MOESM5_ESM.xlsx (138 kb)
Table S4 OTU identities (XLSX 138 kb)
248_2016_778_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (281 kb)
Table S5 Generalised linear modelling (GLM) analyses of fungal group richness in driftwood logs (PDF 281 kb)
248_2016_778_MOESM7_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Table S6 Relationships between global nonmetric multidimensional scaling (GNMDS) ordination axes for fungal communities in 44 driftwood logs and explanatory variables (DOCX 16 kb)
248_2016_778_MOESM8_ESM.docx (160 kb)
Appendix S1 Supplementary methods (DOCX 159 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teppo Rämä
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marie L. Davey
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jenni Nordén
    • 3
    • 6
    • 7
  • Rune Halvorsen
    • 6
  • Rakel Blaalid
    • 3
    • 8
  • Geir H. Mathiassen
    • 1
  • Inger G. Alsos
    • 1
  • Håvard Kauserud
    • 3
  1. 1.Tromsø University MuseumUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  2. 2.MarbioUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  3. 3.Section for Genetics and Evolutionary Biology, Department of BiosciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  5. 5.University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)SvalbardNorway
  6. 6.Natural History MuseumUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  7. 7.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchOsloNorway
  8. 8.Haukeland University HospitalBergenNorway

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