Microeukaryotic biogeography in the typical subtropical coastal waters with multiple environmental gradients


• Microeukaryotic communities in subtropical coastal waters were investigated.
• The microeukaryotes were dominantly comprised of Dinoflagellata and Ciliophora.
• The distribution of top abundant taxa exhibited environment-conditioned features.
• Microeukaryotic α-diversity was associated with phosphorus and suspended particles.
• Spatially-structured local conditions largely shape microeukaryotic biogeography.


The determinants of microeukaryotic biogeography in coastal waters at a regional scale remain largely unclear. The coastal northern Zhejiang (in the East China Sea) is a typical subtropical marine ecosystem with multiple environmental gradients that has been extensively perturbed by anthropogenic activities. Thus, it is a valuable region to investigate the key drivers that shape microbial biogeography. We investigated microeukaryotic communities in surface waters from 115 stations in this region using 18S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing. The microeukaryotic communities were mainly comprised of Dinoflagellata, Ciliophora, Protalveolata, Rhizaria, Stramenopiles and Cryptophyceae. The top abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were highly specific for distinct habitat types, exhibiting significant environment-conditioned features; however, the cosmopolitan OTUs were not strongly correlated with the measured environmental variables. Total phosphorus and suspended particles were major environmental determinants of microeukaryotic α-diversity. Environmental variables, particularly temperature, salinity, pH and silicate concentration, were strongly associated with the microeukaryotic community composition. Overall, environmental and spatial factors explained 55.92% of community variation in total with 34.03% of the variation shared, suggesting that spatially structured environmental variations mainly conditioned the microeukaryotic biogeography in this region. Additionally, dispersal limitation, as indicated by the great pure spatial effect and distance-decay pattern, was another important factor. In summary, our results reveal that spatially structured environmental variation and dispersal limitation mainly conditioned the microeukaryotic biogeography. The results may provide useful distribution patterns of microeukaryotes to determine sources of microbes from marine ecosystems that may facilitate the utilization of coastal resources.

Zhang H., Huang X., Huang L., Bao F., Xiong S., Wang K. & Zhang D., 2018. Microeukaryotic biogeography in the typical subtropical coastal waters with multiple environmental gradients. Science of The Total Environment 635: 618–628. Article (subscription required).

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