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Cultivation of seaweed Gracilaria lemaneiformis enhanced biodiversity in a eukaryotic plankton community as revealed via metagenomic analyses

Chai, Zhao Yang, He, Zhi Li, Deng, Yun Yan, Yang, Yu Feng, Tang, Ying Zhong
Molecular ecology 2018 v.27 no.4 pp. 1081-1093
Gracilaria, allelopathy, biodiversity, biomass, coastal water, community structure, cultivation area, environmental health, laboratory experimentation, macroalgae, marine ecosystems, metagenomics, multidimensional scaling, phytoplankton, principal component analysis, ribosomal RNA, seaweed culture, sequence analysis, China
Plankton diversity reflects the quality and health of waters and should be monitored as a critical feature of marine ecosystems. This study applied a pair of 28S rRNA gene‐specific primers and pyrosequencing to assess the effects of large‐scale cultivation of the seaweed Gracilaria lemaneiformis on the biodiversity of eukaryotic plankton community in the coastal water of Guangdong, China. With 1 million sequences (2,221 operational taxonomic units [OTUs]) obtained from 51 samples, we found that the biodiversity of eukaryotic plankton community was significantly higher in the seaweed cultivation area than that in the nearby control area as reflected in OTU richness, evenness (Shannon–Wiener index) and dominance (Simpson index) for total plankton community and its four subcategories when Gracilaria biomass reached the maximum, while no such a significant difference was observed before seaweed inoculation. Our laboratory experiment using an artificial phytoplankton community of nine species observed the same effects of Gracilaria exposure. Principal component analysis and principal coordinates analysis showed the plankton community structure in cultivation area markedly differed from the control area when Gracilaria biomass reached its maximum. Redundancy analysis showed that G. lemaneiformis was the critical factor in controlling the dynamics of eukaryotic plankton communities in the studied coastal ecosystem. Our results explicitly demonstrated G. lemaneiformis cultivation could enhance biodiversity of plankton community via allelopathy, which prevents one or several plankton species from blooming and consequently maintains a relatively higher biodiversity. Our study provided further support for using large‐scale G. lemaneiformis cultivation as an effective approach for improving costal ecosystem health.