High microeukaryotic diversity in the cold-seep sediment

Xu, Zhimeng and Chen, Jiawei and Li, Yingdong and Shekarriz, Erfan and Wu, Wenxue and Chen, Bingzhang and Liu, Hongbin (2023) High microeukaryotic diversity in the cold-seep sediment. Microbial Ecology, 86 (3). pp. 2003-2020. ISSN 1432-184X (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-023-02212-y)

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Microeukaryotic diversity, community structure, and their regulating mechanisms remain largely unclear in chemosynthetic ecosystems. Here, using high-throughput sequencing data of 18S rRNA genes, we explored microeukaryotic communities from the Haima cold seep in the northern South China Sea. We compared three distinct habitats: active, less active, and non-seep regions, with vertical layers (0-25 cm) from sediment cores. The results showed that seep regions harbored more abundant and diverse parasitic microeukaryotes (e.g., Apicomplexa and Syndiniales) as indicator species, compared to nearby non-seep region. Microeukaryotic community heterogeneity was larger between habitats than within habitat, and greatly increased when considering molecular phylogeny, suggesting the local diversification in cold-seep sediments. Microeukaryotic α-diversity at cold seeps was positively increased by metazoan richness and dispersal rate of microeukaryotes, while its β-diversity was promoted by heterogeneous selection mainly from metazoan communities (as potential hosts). Their combined effects led to the significant higher γ-diversity (i.e., total diversity in a region) at cold seeps than non-seep regions, suggesting cold-seep sediment as a hotspot for microeukaryotic diversity. Our study highlights the importance of microeukaryotic parasitism in cold-seep sediment and has implications for the roles of cold seep in maintaining and promoting marine biodiversity.