High habitat-specificity in fungal communities in oligo-mesotrophic, temperate Lake Stechlin (North-East Germany)

Christian Wurzbacher*, Norman Warthmann, Elizabeth C. Bourne, Katrin Attermeyer, Martin Allgaier, Jeff R. Powell, Harald Detering, Susan Mbedi, Hans Peter Grossart, Michael T. Monaghan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    52 Citations (Scopus)


    Freshwater fungi are a poorly studied ecological group that includes a high taxonomic diversity. Most studies on aquatic fungal diversity have focused on single habitats, thus the linkage between habitat heterogeneity and fungal diversity remains largely unexplored. We took 216 samples from 54 locations representing eight different habitats in the meso-oligotrophic, temperate Lake Stechlin in North-East Germany. These included the pelagic and littoral water column, sediments, and biotic substrates. We performed high throughput sequencing using the Roche 454 platform, employing a universal eukaryotic marker region within the large ribosomal subunit (LSU) to compare fungal diversity, community structure, and species turnover among habitats. Our analysis recovered 1027 fungal OTUs (97% sequence similarity). Richness estimates were highest in the sediment, biofilms, and benthic samples (189-231 OTUs), intermediate in water samples (42-85 OTUs), and lowest in plankton samples (8 OTUs). NMDS grouped the eight studied habitats into six clusters, indicating that community composition was strongly influenced by turnover among habitats. Fungal communities exhibited changes at the phylum and order levels along three different substrate categories from littoral to pelagic habitats. The large majority of OTUs (> 75%) could not be classified below the order level due to the lack of aquatic fungal entries in public sequence databases. Our study provides a first estimate of lake-wide fungal diversity and highlights the important contribution of habitat heterogeneity to overall diversity and community composition. Habitat diversity should be considered in any sampling strategy aiming to assess the fungal diversity of a water body.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-44
    Number of pages28
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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