Published in The ISME Journal
The ‘other’ coral symbiont: Ostreobium diversity and distribution
Javier del Campo, Jean-François Pombert, Jan Šlapeta, Anthony Larkum, Patrick J. Keeling
Ostreobium is an endolithic algal genus thought to be an early-diverging lineage of the Bryopsidales (Ulvophyceae, Chlorophyta). Ostreobium can live in low-light conditions on calcium carbonate substrate in tropical conditions. It is best known as a symbiont of corals, where it lives deep within the animal skeleton and exchanges nitrogen and carbon, as well as providing nutrients and photoassimilates. In contrast to the relatively well-studied role of the photosynthetic zooxanthellae symbionts in coral (Symbiodinium), Ostreobium phylogeny, diversity and distribution are all poorly understood. Here, we describe the phylogenetic position and diversity of Ostreobium based on plastid 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA), 18S rDNA and rbcL genes from a nuclear genome survey and complete plastid genome, and determined its environmental diversity and distribution by screening the publicly available environmental data for those genes. The results shed light on the phylogeny and the ecology of the ‘other’ coral symbiont.
Published in The Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology.
Reference Tree and Environmental Sequence Diversity of Labyrinthulomycetes
Jingwen Pan, Javier del Campo, Patrick J. Keeling
Labyrinthulomycetes are heterotrophic stramenopiles that are ubiquitous in a wide range of both marine and freshwater habitats and play important roles in decomposition of organic matter. The diversity and taxonomy of Labyrinthulomycetes has been studied for many years, but we nevertheless lack both a comprehensive reference database and up-to-date phylogeny including all known diversity, which hinders many global insights into their ecological distribution and the relative importance of various subgroups in different environments. Here, we present a curated reference database and a phylogenetic tree of Labyrinthulomycetes small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU or 18S rRNA) data. Based on this created reference database, we analyzed high-throughput environmental sequencing data, revealing many previously unknown environmental clades and exploring the ecological distribution of various subgroups. Particularly, a number of newly identified environmental clades that are widespread in the open ocean. Comparing the manually curated reference database to existing tools for identification of environmental sequences (e.g. PR2 or SILVA databases) suggests that the curated database provides a higher degree of specificity and a lower frequency of misidentification. The phylogenetic framework and database will be a useful tool for future ecological and evolutionary studies.
Published in the European Journal of Protistology as part of the VII European Congress of Protistology special issue
Ecological and evolutionary significance of novel protist lineages
Javier del Campo, Laure Guillou, Elisabeth Hehenberger, Ramiro Logares, Purificación López-García, Ramon Massana
Environmental molecular surveys targeting protist diversity have unveiled novel and uncultured lineages in a variety of ecosystems, ranging from completely new high-rank lineages, to new taxa moderately related to previously described organisms. The ecological roles of some of these novel taxa have been studied, showing that in certain habitats they may be responsible for critical environmental processes. Moreover, from an evolutionary perspective they still need to be included in a more accurate and wider understanding of the eukaryotic tree of life. These seminal discoveries promoted the development and use of a wide range of more in-depth culture-independent approaches to access this diversity, from metabarcoding and metagenomics to single cell genomics and FISH. Nonetheless, culturing using classical or innovative approaches is also essential to better characterize this new diversity. Ecologists and evolutionary biologists now face the challenge of apprehending the significance of this new diversity within the eukaryotic tree of life.