Diversity and ecology of Chlorophyta (Viridiplantae) assemblages in protected and non-protected sites in Deception Island (Antarctica, South Shetland Islands) assessed using an NGS approach
Assessment of the diversity of algal assemblages in Antarctica has until now largely relied on traditional microbiological culture approaches. Here we used DNA metabarcoding through high-throughput sequencing (HTS) to assess the uncultured algal diversity at two sites on Deception Island, Antarctica. The first was a relatively undisturbed site within an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA 140), and the second was a site heavily impacted by human visitation, the Whalers Bay historic site. We detected 65 distinct algal taxa, 50 from within ASPA 140 and 61 from Whalers Bay. Of these taxa, 46 were common to both sites, and 19 only occurred at one site. Algal richness was about six times greater than reported in previous studies using culture methods. A high proportion of DNA reads obtained was assigned to the highly invasive species Caulerpa webbiana at Whalers Bay, and the potentially pathogenic genus Desmodesmus was found at both sites. Our data demonstrate that important differences exist between these two protected and human-impacted sites on Deception Island in terms of algal diversity, richness, and abundance. The South Shetland Islands have experienced considerable effects of climate change in recent decades, while warming through geothermal activity on Deception Island itself makes this island one of the most vulnerable to colonization by non-native species. The detection of DNA of non-native taxa highlights concerns about how human impacts, which take place primarily through tourism and national research operations, may influence future biological colonization processes in Antarctica.
Authors: Câmara, Paulo E.A.S., Carvalho-Silva, Micheline, Pinto, Otávio H.B., Henriques, Diego Knop, da Silva, Thamar Holanda, Stech, Michael, Pellizzari, Franciane, Convey, Peter ORCID record for Peter Convey, Rosa, Luiz Henrique