Fungal Community Composition and Potential Depth-Related Driving Factors Impacting Distribution Pattern and Trophic Modes from Epi- to Abyssopelagic Zones of the Western Pacific Ocean

  • Wei Li
  • Mengmeng Wang
  • Gaëtan Burgaud
  • Huaming Yu
  • Lei CaiEmail author
Fungal Microbiology


Fungi play an important role in cycling organic matter and nutrients in marine ecosystems. However, the distribution of fungal communities in the ocean, especially the vertical distribution along depth in the water column, remained poorly understood. Here, we assess the depth-related distribution pattern of fungal communities along the water column from epi- to abyssopelagic zones of the Western Pacific Ocean using internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) metabarcoding. Majority of the assigned OTUs were affiliated to Ascomycota, followed by three other minor phyla (Basidiomycota, Chytridiomycota, and Mucoromycota). The epipelagic zone harbored a higher OTU richness with distinct fungal communities as compared with meso-, bathy-, and abyssopelagic zones. Across the whole water column, depth appears as a key parameter for both fungal α- and β-diversity. However, when the dataset was split into the upper (5–500 m) and deeper (below 500 m) layers, no significant correlation was observed between depth and community compositions. In the upper layer, temperature and dissolved oxygen were recognized as the primary environmental factors shaping fungal α- and β- diversity. By parsing fungal OTUs into ecological categories, multi-trophic mode of nutrition was found to be more prevalent with increasing depth, suggesting a potential adaptation to the extreme conditions of the deep sea. This study provides new and meaningful information on the depth-stratified fungal diversity, community structure, and putative ecological roles in the open sea.


Open sea Depth Mycobiome Trophic mode Metabarcoding 



The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful and professional comments. The authors also thank crews of Kexuehao research vessel for their help in collecting samples. This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Project No. 2016YFC1401800) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project Nos. 31670012, 31872615). MM Wang acknowledges CAS 153211KYSB20160029 for supporting her postgraduate studentship.

Supplementary material

248_2019_1374_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (2.1 mb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 2135 kb)
248_2019_1374_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (554 kb)
Fig. S1 (a) Rarefaction curves for each sample informing on the number of OTUs detected depending on the sequencing effort. (b) Accumulation curves of the total OTUs, fungal OTUs observed and Chao1 based on the number of samples. (JPG 554 kb)
248_2019_1374_Fig6_ESM.png (108 kb)
Fig. S2

Relative read abundance of the 12 main taxonomic groups (mainly at the levels of class and phylum) (a) and top 10 genera in different sea zones (b). (PNG 107 kb)

248_2019_1374_MOESM3_ESM.eps (862 kb)
High Resolution Image (EPS 862 kb)
248_2019_1374_MOESM4_ESM.jpg (172 kb)
Fig. S3 Venn diagram of OTU number among different sea zones. (JPG 171 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Li
    • 1
  • Mengmeng Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gaëtan Burgaud
    • 3
  • Huaming Yu
    • 4
    • 5
  • Lei Cai
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Marine Life SciencesOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Mycology, Institute of MicrobiologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Université de Brest, EA 3882, Laboratoire Universitaire de Biodiversité et Ecologie MicrobienneESIABPlouzanéFrance
  4. 4.College of Oceanic and Atmospheric SciencesOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Physical OceanographyMOEQingdaoChina

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