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Nat Ecol Evol. 2017 Mar 20;1(4):91. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0091.

Parasites dominate hyperdiverse soil protist communities in Neotropical rainforests.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology, University of Kaiserslautern, Erwin-Schrödinger-Straße, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany.
2
CNRS, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de Roscoff, Place Georges Teissier, 29680 Roscoff Cedex, France.
3
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Université de Paris 06, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de Roscoff, Place Georges Teissier, 29680 Roscoff Cedex, France.
4
Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum London, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
5
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Barrack Road, The Nothe, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, UK.
6
Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, Schloß-Wolfsbrunnenweg, 69118 Heidelberg, Germany.
7
Institute for Theoretical Informatics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Am Fasanengarten, 76128 Karlsruhe, Germany.
8
Laboratory of Soil Biodiversity, Université de Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
9
Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skogsmarksgränd, 90183 Umeå, Sweden.
10
Department of Computer Science, Cornell University, Gates Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.
11
Department of Statistical Science, Cornell University, Malott Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.
12
Jardin Botanique de Neuchâtel, Pertuis-du-Sault, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
13
Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Blindernveien, 0316 Oslo, Norway.
14
Department of Plant Ecology and Systematics, University of Kaiserslautern, Erwin-Schrödinger-Straße, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany.
15
Instituto de Microbiología, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Diego de Robles, Quito, Ecuador.

Abstract

High animal and plant richness in tropical rainforest communities has long intrigued naturalists. It is unknown if similar hyperdiversity patterns are reflected at the microbial scale with unicellular eukaryotes (protists). Here we show, using environmental metabarcoding of soil samples and a phylogeny-aware cleaning step, that protist communities in Neotropical rainforests are hyperdiverse and dominated by the parasitic Apicomplexa, which infect arthropods and other animals. These host-specific parasites potentially contribute to the high animal diversity in the forests by reducing population growth in a density-dependent manner. By contrast, too few operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of Oomycota were found to broadly drive high tropical tree diversity in a host-specific manner under the Janzen-Connell model. Extremely high OTU diversity and high heterogeneity between samples within the same forests suggest that protists, not arthropods, are the most diverse eukaryotes in tropical rainforests. Our data show that protists play a large role in tropical terrestrial ecosystems long viewed as being dominated by macroorganisms.

PMID:
28812652
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-017-0091

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