Influence of Regional Oceanography and Hydrothermal Activity on Protist Diversity and Community Structure in the Okinawa Trough
Microbial eukaryotes (protists) contribute substantially to ecological functioning in marine ecosystems, but the relative importance of factors shaping protist diversity, such as environmental selection and dispersal, remains difficult to parse. Water masses of a back-arc basin with hydrothermal activity provide a unique opportunity for studying the effects of dispersal and environmental selection on protist communities. In this study, we used metabarcoding to characterize protist communities in the Okinawa Trough, a back-arc spreading basin containing at least twenty-five active hydrothermal vent fields. Water was sampled from four depths at fourteen stations spanning the length of the Okinawa Trough, including three sites influenced by nearby hydrothermal vent sites. While significant differences in community structure reflecting water depth were present, protist communities were mostly homogeneous horizontally. Protist communities in the bottom waters affected by hydrothermal activity were significantly different from communities in other bottom waters, suggesting that environmental factors can be especially important in shaping community composition under specific conditions. Amplicon sequence variants that were enriched in hydrothermally influenced bottom waters largely derived from cosmopolitan protists that were present, but rare, in other near-bottom samples, thus highlighting the importance of the rare biosphere.
- Microbial Ecology
Microbial Ecology 80 746-761, 2020-09-18