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Microbial eukaryote communities from Patagonian-Antarctic gradient of lakes evidence robust biogeographical patterns

2016-9-30, Schiaffino, M. Romina, Lara, Enrique, Fernández, Leonardo D., Balagué, Vanessa, Singer, David, Seppey, Christophe, Massana, Ramon, Izaguirre, Irina

Microbial eukaryotes play important roles in aquatic ecosystem functioning. Unravelling their distribution patterns and biogeography provides important baseline information to infer the underlying mechanisms that regulate the biodiversity and complexity of eco- systems. We studied the distribution patterns and factors driving diversity gradients in microeukaryote communities (total, abundant, uncommon and rare community composition) along a latitudinal gradient of lakes distributed from Argentinean Patagonia to Maritime Antarctica using both denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and high-throughput sequencing (Illumina HiSeq). DGGE and abundant Illumina operational taxonomic units (OTUs) showed both decreasing richness with latitude and significant differences between Patagonian and Antarctic lakes communities. In contrast, total richness did not change significantly across the latitudinal gradient, although evenness and diversity indices were significantly higher in Patagonian lakes. Beta-diversity was characterized by a high species turnover, influenced by both environmental and geographical descriptors, although this pattern faded in the rare community. Our results suggest the co-existence of a ‘core biosphere’ containing reduced number of abundant/dominant OTUs on which classical ecological rules apply, together with a much larger seedbank of rare OTUs driven by stochastic and reduced dispersal processes. These findings shed new light on the biogeographical patterns and forces structuring inland microeukaryote composition across broad spatial scales.