IMPACT OF PARASITIC FUNGI ON THE DIVERSITY AND FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY OF MARINE PHYTOPLANKTON
Authors: Guangyi Wang and Zackary I. Johnson
Abstract: The population structure and dynamics of phytoplankton are governed by complex interactions between several biotic and abiotic factors. The importance of physical and chemical conditions and predation has been well-documented in the ecology of phytoplankton. Parasitism, which was originally examined in mid-1970’s, has also been shown to play an important role in the population dynamics and ecology of phytoplankton. Parasitic fungi are best known to infect large phytoplankton (e.g., diatoms and dinoflagellates), but their ecological function has been largely under-studied in marine ecosystems. The currently described marine fungal parasites, including true fungi and fungal-like organisms, belong to 5 classes (Chytridiomycetes, Sordariomycetes, Dothideomycetes, Oomycetes, and Labyrinthulomycetes) and 11 orders. These fungi infect and potentially influence the dynamics and community structure of diverse groups of marine phytoplankton. Through their top-down effects, these fungal pathogens can also alter material flows within the microbial food web in the marine ecosystem. This chapter reviews findings on the diversity of parasitic fungi and what is currently known about their impact on the functional ecology of marine phytoplankton.
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