Exploring Marine Fungal Diversity and Changes in the Northern Adriatic Sea

Jenn Hoskins
29th May, 2024

Exploring Marine Fungal Diversity and Changes in the Northern Adriatic Sea

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study focused on fungal communities in the Gulf of Trieste, northern Adriatic Sea
  • Fungal communities in this area are highly diverse and dynamic, mainly consisting of marine taxa
  • The ratio of dissolved and particulate organic carbon to nitrogen significantly influences fungal community composition
Fungi are crucial players in various ecological processes, such as the decomposition of organic matter and nutrient cycling. However, the factors influencing their diversity and dynamics in marine environments remain largely unclear. A recent study conducted by the OGS research institution aimed to shed light on this topic by investigating the fungal communities in the Gulf of Trieste, located in the northern Adriatic Sea[1]. The researchers performed DNA metabarcoding on seawater samples collected monthly over a year and a half. They targeted two genetic regions: the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and the 18S rRNA gene. The study revealed that the fungal communities were highly diverse and dynamic, predominantly consisting of marine taxa. The samples could be grouped into two clusters based on the relative proportion of the ascomycetes Parengyodontium album, which emerged as a key taxon in this area. One of the significant findings of this study was the role of dissolved and particulate organic carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratios in shaping the mycoplankton assemblages. This suggests that different pools of bioavailable organic matter might be utilized by different fungal consortia. The proportion of fungal reads over total reads was 31% for ITS and 0.7% for 18S. Although ITS had the highest taxonomic resolution, it had low power to detect early divergent fungal lineages. This study extends our knowledge of the composition, distribution, and environmental drivers of the mycobiome in coastal waters. It highlights the importance of considering fungi in marine ecological studies, a point that has been previously overlooked[2]. Earlier research has shown that fungi play significant roles in various ecosystems, including aquatic environments, where they contribute to organic matter cycling and food web dynamics[2]. This new study builds on these findings by providing concrete data on the factors influencing fungal diversity and dynamics in a specific marine environment. The study also aligns with previous research on parasitic chytrids, a type of aquatic fungus, and their role in shaping aquatic food webs[3]. Chytrids have a free-living zoosporic stage that serves as excellent food for zooplankton, thus facilitating energy transfer within the ecosystem[3]. The current study's focus on the Gulf of Trieste adds another layer to our understanding of how different fungal taxa contribute to marine ecosystems. Moreover, the findings underscore the need to recognize fungi as significant contributors to the organic matter cycling and ecology of the oceans, a point also emphasized in earlier studies on pelagic fungi[4]. These studies have revealed that pelagic fungi are ubiquitously distributed throughout the water column in every ocean basin and play an active role in nutrient cycling[4]. The current study also ties in with the broader context of marine microbiota diversity. A metagenomic study of marine planktonic microbiota revealed extensive genetic and biochemical diversity, highlighting the complexity of microbial communities in the ocean[5]. The new study adds to this body of knowledge by focusing specifically on the fungal component of these communities, thereby filling a crucial gap in our understanding. In summary, the study conducted by the OGS research institution provides valuable insights into the diversity and dynamics of fungal communities in the Gulf of Trieste. By highlighting the environmental factors that shape these communities, the study contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of marine ecosystems. This research not only builds on previous findings but also opens up new avenues for future studies on the role of fungi in marine environments.

EcologyMarine BiologyMycology


Main Study

1) Marine Fungal Diversity and Dynamics in the Gulf of Trieste (Northern Adriatic Sea)

Published 29th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Fungi in aquatic ecosystems.


3) Mycoloop: chytrids in aquatic food webs.


4) The largely neglected ecological role of oceanic pelagic fungi.


5) The Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling expedition: northwest Atlantic through eastern tropical Pacific.

Journal: PLoS biology, Issue: Vol 5, Issue 3, Mar 2007

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