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Global diversity and geography of planktonic marine fungi

Journal article
Authors Brandon Hassett
Tobias Vonnahme
Xuefeng Peng
Gareth Jones
Céline Heuzé
Published in Botanica Marina
Volume 63
Issue 2
Pages 121–139
ISSN 0006-8055
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 121–139
Language en
Subject categories Oceanography, Botany, Biological Sciences, Genetics, Climate Research, Physical Geography


Growing interest in understanding the relevance of marine fungi to food webs, biogeochemical cycling, and biological patterns necessitates establishing a context for interpreting future findings. To help establish this context, we summarize the diversity of cultured and observed marine planktonic fungi from across the world. While exploring this diversity, we discovered that only half of the known marine fungal species have a publicly available DNA locus, which we hypothesize will likely hinder accurate high-throughput sequencing classification in the future, as it does currently. Still, we reprocessed >600 high-throughput datasets and analyzed 4.9 × 109 sequences (4.8 × 109 shotgun metagenomic reads and 1.0 × 108 amplicon sequences) and found that every fungal phylum is represented in the global marine planktonic mycobiome; however, this mycobiome is generally predominated by three phyla: the Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and Chytridiomycota. We hypothesize that these three clades are the most abundant due to a combination of evolutionary histories, as well as physical processes that aid in their dispersal. We found that environments with atypical salinity regimes (>5 standard deviations from the global mean: Red Sea, Baltic Sea, sea ice) hosted higher proportions of the Chytridiomycota, relative to open oceans that are dominated by Dikarya. The Baltic Sea and Mediterranean Sea had the highest fungal richness of all areas explored. An analysis of similarity identified significant differences between oceanographic regions. There were no latitudinal gradients of marine fungal richness and diversity observed. As more high-throughput sequencing data become available, expanding the collection of reference loci and genomes will be essential to understanding the ecology of marine fungi.

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