Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Ephemeral parasitism on blooming diatoms in a temperate estuary

Valeria A. Guinder A E , M. Cecilia Carcedo A , Natalia Buzzi A B , Juan Carlos Molinero C , Celeste López Abbate A , Fernández Severini Melisa A , Biancalana Florencia A and Stefanie Kühn D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Instituto Argentino de Oceanografía (IADO), Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Camino La Carrindanga kilómetro 7,5, 8000 Bahía Blanca, Argentina.

B Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia, Universidad Nacional del Sur, San Juan 670, Bahía Blanca, Argentina.

C GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Marine Ecology/Food Webs, Duesternbrooker Weg 20, D-24105 Kiel, Germany.

D Am Holunder 8, D-27619 Schiffdorf, Germany.

E Corresponding author. Email: vguinder@criba.edu.ar

Marine and Freshwater Research 69(1) 128-133 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17062
Submitted: 2 March 2017  Accepted: 25 July 2017   Published: 12 September 2017

Abstract

Parasites of phytoplankton influence phytoplankton bloom dynamics and may severely affect the type of food available for higher trophic levels. The incidence of parasitic infections generally is expected to increase across ecosystems worldwide under the scenario of global change. Herein we report on a massive parasite infection on two dominant diatoms of the austral winter bloom, namely Thalassiosira pacifica and Chaetoceros diadema, recorded during an extreme precipitation period in the Bahía Blanca Estuary, Argentina. The parasite infection was concomitant with a marked drop in water salinity and affected more than 40% of host cells. Although the parasite on C. diadema was not identified, the parasite on T. pacifica was most likely Pirsonia sp., a nanoflagellate with high host specificity. After the intense rainy period and the parasitic infection, the phytoplankton biomass dropped (by more than 80%) and the community structure shifted to one with smaller species (i.e. Thalassiosira curviseriata, T. hibernalis and T. minima). We discuss the implications that these modifications may have on the food web dynamics and the potential relationship between precipitation-driven modifications in water properties and the emergence of parasitism in coastal eutrophic environments.

Additional keywords: parasitic protists, phytoplankton bloom, precipitation, species turnover.


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