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Supplementary Information from Chytrid fungi shape bacterial communities on model particulate organic matter

journal contribution
posted on 14.09.2020 by Cordelia Roberts, Ro Allen, Kimberley E. Bird, Michael Cunliffe
Microbial colonization and degradation of particulate organic matter (POM) are important processes that influence the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems. Although POM is readily used by aquatic fungi and bacteria, there is a limited understanding of POM-associated interactions between these taxa, particularly for early-diverging fungal lineages. Using a model ecological system with the chitin-using freshwater chytrid fungus Rhizoclosmatium globosum and chitin microbeads, we assessed the impacts of chytrid fungi on POM-associated bacteria. We show that the presence of chytrids on POM alters concomitant bacterial community diversity and structure, including differing responses between chytrid life stages. We propose that chytrids can act as ecosystem facilitators through saprotrophic feeding by producing ‘public goods’ from POM degradation that modify bacterial POM communities. This study suggests that chytrid fungi have complex ecological roles in aquatic POM degradation not previously considered, including the regulation of bacterial colonization, community succession and subsequent biogeochemical potential.

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