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Constant abundances of ubiquitous uncultured protists in the open sea assessed by automated microscopy

AuthorsMangot, Jean-François ; Forn, Irene ; Obiol, Aleix; Massana, Ramon
Issue DateOct-2018
PublisherSociety for Applied Microbiology
CitationEnvironmental Microbiology 20(10): 3876-3889 (2018)
AbstractProtists have fundamental ecological roles in marine environments and their diversity is being increasingly explored, yet little is known about the quantitative importance of specific taxa in these ecosystems. Here we optimized a newly developed automated system of image acquisition and image analysis to enumerate minute uncultured cells of different sizes targeted by fluorescence in situ hybridization. The automated counting routine was highly reproducible, well correlated with manual counts, and was then applied on surface and deep chlorophyll maximum samples from the Malaspina 2010 circumnavigation. The three targeted uncultured taxa (MAST‐4, MAST‐7 and MAST‐1C) were found in virtually all samples from several ocean basins (Atlantic, Indian and Pacific) in fairly constant cell abundances, following typical lognormal distributions. Their global abundances averaged 49, 23 and 7 cells ml−1, respectively, and altogether the three groups accounted for about 10%–20% of heterotrophic picoeukaryotes. Our innovative high‐throughput cell counting routine allows for the first time a direct assessment of the biogeographic distribution of small protists (< 5 μm) and shows the ubiquity in sunlit oceans of three bacterivorous taxa, suggesting their key roles in marine ecosystems
Description14 pages, 5 figures, 1 table, supporting information https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14408
Publisher version (URL)https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14408
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14408
issn: 1462-2912
e-issn: 1462-2920
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