Inventory of the benthic eukaryotic diversity in the oldest European lake

Benjamin Wilden* (Corresponding author), Walter Traunspurger, Stefan Geisen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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We have profound knowledge on biodiversity on Earth including plants and animals. In the recent decade, we have also increased our understanding on microorganisms in different hosts and the environment. However, biodiversity is not equally well studied among different biodiversity groups and Earth's systems with eukaryotes in freshwater sediments being among the least known. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing of the 18S rRNA gene to investigate the entire diversity of benthic eukaryotes in three distinct habitats (littoral sediment and hard substrate, profundal sediment) of Lake Ohrid, the oldest European lake. Eukaryotic sequences were dominated by annelid and arthropod animals (54% of all eukaryotic reads) and protists (Ochrophyta and Ciliophora; together 40% of all reads). Eukaryotic diversity was 15% higher in the deep profundal than on either near-surface hard substrates or littoral sediments. The three habitats differed in their taxonomic and functional community composition. Specifically, heterotrophic organisms accounted for 92% of the reads in the profundal, whereas phototrophs accounted for 43% on the littoral hard substrate. The profundal community was the most homogeneous, and its network was the most complex, suggesting its highest stability among the sampled habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11207-11215
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • ancient lake
  • benthic eukaryotes
  • eDNA
  • functional diversity
  • international
  • Plan_S-Compliant-OA


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