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Trophic and symbiotic links between obligate-glacier water bears (Tardigrada) and cryoconite microorganisms

Zawierucha, Krzysztof, Trzebny, Artur, Buda, Jakub, Bagshaw, Elizabeth ORCID:, Franzetti, Andrea, Dabert, Miroslawa and Ambrosini, Roberto 2022. Trophic and symbiotic links between obligate-glacier water bears (Tardigrada) and cryoconite microorganisms. PLoS ONE 17 , e0262039. 10.1371/journal.pone.0262039

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Insights into biodiversity and trophic webs are important for understanding ecosystem functions. Although the surfaces of glaciers are one of the most productive and biologically diverse parts of the cryosphere, the links between top consumers, their diet and microbial communities are poorly understood. In this study, for the first time we investigated the relationships between bacteria, fungi and other microeukaryotes as they relate to tardigrades, microscopic metazoans that are top consumers in cryoconite, a biologically rich and productive biogenic sediment found on glacier surfaces. Using metabarcoding (16S rDNA for bacteria, ITS1 for fungi, and 18S rDNA for other microeukaryotes), we analyzed the microbial community structures of cryoconite and compared them with the community found in both fully fed and starved tardigrades. The community structure of each microbial group (bacteria, fungi, microeukaryotes) were similar within each host group (cryoconite, fully fed tardigrades and starved tardigrades), and differed significantly between groups, as indicated by redundancy analyses. The relative number of operational taxonomic units (ZOTUs, OTUs) and the Shannon index differed significantly between cryoconite and tardigrades. Species indicator analysis highlighted a group of microbial taxa typical of both fully fed and starved tardigrades (potential commensals), like the bacteria of the genera Staphylococcus and Stenotrophomonas, as well as a group of taxa typical of both cryoconite and fully fed tardigrades (likely part of the tardigrade diet; bacteria Flavobacterium sp., fungi Preussia sp., algae Trebouxiophyceae sp.). Tardigrades are consumers of bacteria, fungi and other microeukaryotes in cryoconite and, being hosts for diverse microbes, their presence can enrich the microbiome of glaciers.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This is anopen access article distributed under the terms ofthe Creative Commons Attribution License
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 January 2022
Date of Acceptance: 15 December 2021
Last Modified: 14 May 2023 22:27

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