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Effects of eukaryotic pathogens (Chytridiomycota and Oomycota) on marine benthic diatom communities in the Solthorn tidal flat (southern North Sea, Germany)
Scholz, B.; Küpper, F.C.; Vyverman, W.; Karsten, U. (2016). Effects of eukaryotic pathogens (Chytridiomycota and Oomycota) on marine benthic diatom communities in the Solthorn tidal flat (southern North Sea, Germany). Eur. J. Phycol. 51(3): 253-269. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09670262.2015.1134814
In: European Journal of Phycology. Cambridge University Press/Taylor & Francis: Cambridge. ISSN 0967-0262; e-ISSN 1469-4433, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Bacillariophyceae [WoRMS]
    Marine/Coastal
Author keywords
    Bacillariophyceae; benthic diatoms; chytrids; community compositions;environmental variables; microphytobenthos; oomycetes

Authors  Top 
  • Scholz, B.
  • Küpper, F.C.
  • Vyverman, W., more
  • Karsten, U.

Abstract
    The presence of eukaryotic parasites (i.e. chytridiomycetes and oomycetes) infecting benthic marine diatoms was revealed by a reconnaissance survey in the Solthörn tidal flat (southern North Sea, Germany) followed by 5 months of regular monitoring in order to assess the impact of these zoosporic fungal pathogens on microphytobenthic diatom communities. Additionally, variation of environmental factors such as sediment composition and nutrient concentrations were monitored. Pre-treatment of sediment samples using short ultrasound pulses and gradient centrifugation, in combination with CalcoFluor White, were used for the visualization of both pathogen groups. The highest prevalence of infected benthic diatoms was observed in late September (6.3% of the total benthic diatom community), correlating with the highest abundance of benthic diatoms recorded during the survey (6.5 ± 1.3 × 104 cells cm–2). Most infections were caused by chytrids (up to 99.8%) and, only in a few cases, by oomycetes. The analysis of individual host abundances/infection prevalence showed in most cases a decline in cell numbers of the host species with increasing numbers of the eukaryotic parasite. Several shifts in the diatom community composition were observed. Statistical analysis revealed that the abundance of the benthic diatom hosts and their parasites was related to seasonal variation in temperature, irradiance and nutrient availability, particularly of dissolved inorganic nitrogen.

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