Phyllosphere eukaryotic microalgal communities in rainforests: Drivers and diversity

Plant Divers. 2022 Sep 5;45(1):45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.pld.2022.08.006. eCollection 2023 Jan.


Phyllosphere algae are common in tropical rainforests, forming visible biofilms or spots on plant leaf surfaces. However, knowledge of phyllosphere algal diversity and the environmental factors that drive that diversity is limited. The aim of this study is to identify the environmental factors that drive phyllosphere algal community composition and diversity in rainforests. For this purpose, we used single molecule real-time sequencing of full-length 18S rDNA to characterize the composition of phyllosphere microalgal communities growing on four host tree species (Ficus tikoua, Caryota mitis, Arenga pinnata, and Musa acuminata) common to three types of forest over four months at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Yunnan Province, China. Environmental 18S rDNA sequences revealed that the green algae orders Watanabeales and Trentepohliales were dominant in almost all algal communities and that phyllosphere algal species richness and biomass were lower in planted forest than in primeval and reserve rainforest. In addition, algal community composition differed significantly between planted forest and primeval rainforest. We also found that algal communities were affected by soluble reactive phosphorous, total nitrogen, and ammonium contents. Our findings indicate that algal community structure is significantly related to forest type and host tree species. Furthermore, this study is the first to identify environmental factors that affect phyllosphere algal communities, significantly contributing to future taxonomic research, especially for the green algae orders Watanabeales and Trentepohliales. This research also serves as an important reference for molecular diversity analysis of algae in other specific habitats, such as epiphytic algae and soil algae.

PMID:36876308 | PMC:PMC9975471 | DOI:10.1016/j.pld.2022.08.006


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