Temporal dynamics of freshwater planktonic parasites inferred using a DNA metabarcoding time-series

Kingsly C. Beng* (Corresponding author), Justyna Wolinska, Elisabeth Funke, Silke Van Den Wyngaert, Alena S. Gsell, Michael T. Monaghan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Parasites are important components of biodiversity and contributors to ecosystem functioning, but are often neglected in ecological studies. Most studies examine model parasite systems or single taxa, thus our understanding of community composition is lacking. Here, the seasonal and annual dynamics of parasites was quantified using a 5-year metabarcoding time-series of freshwater plankton, collected weekly. We first identified parasites in the data set using literature searches of the taxonomic match and using sequence metadata from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) nucleotide database. In total, 441 Amplicon Sequence Variants (ASVs, belonging to 18 phyla/clades) were classified as parasites. The four phyla/clades with highest relative read abundance and richness were Chytridiomycota, Dinoflagellata, Oomycota, and Perkinsozoa. Relative read abundance of total parasite taxa, Dinoflagellata, and Perkinsozoa significantly varied with season and was highest in summer. Parasite richness varied significantly with season and year, and was generally lowest in spring. Each season had distinct parasite communities, and the difference between summer and winter communities was most pronounced. Combining DNA metabarcoding with searches of the literature and NCBI metadata allowed us to characterize parasite diversity and community dynamics and revealed the extent to which parasites contribute to the diversity of freshwater plankton communities.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages36
Issue number3
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 18S rRNA gene
  • Aquatic food web
  • Genbank
  • long-Term monitoring
  • Metabarcoding
  • Möggelsee
  • Planktonic parasites
  • international
  • Plan_S-Compliant-TA


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