Experimental and molecular approximation to microbial niche: trophic interactions between oribatid mites and microfungi in an oligotrophic freshwater system.

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Experimental and molecular approximation to microbial niche: trophic interactions between oribatid mites and microfungi in an oligotrophic freshwater system.

PeerJ. 2018;6:e5200

Authors: Velez P, Ojeda M, Espinosa-Asuar L, Pérez TM, Eguiarte LE, Souza V

Abstract
Mite-fungal interactions play a key role in structuring core ecosystem processes such as nutrient dynamics. Despite their ecological relevance, these cross-kingdom interactions remain poorly understood particularly in extreme environments. Herein, we investigated feeding preferences of a novel genetic lineage of aquatic oribatids obtained from an oligotrophic freshwater system in the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin (CCB) within the Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico. During in vitro diet preference bioassays, transient aquatic microfungi (Aspergillus niger, Talaromyces sp., and Pleosporales sp.) recovered from the same mesocosm samples were offered individually and simultaneously to mites. Gut content was analyzed using classic plating and culture-independent direct PCR (focusing on the fungal barcoding region) methods. Our results indicated that oribatids fed on all tested fungal isolates, yet the profusely developing A. niger was preferentially consumed with all fungal components being digested. This feeding habit is particularly interesting since A. niger has been reported as an unsuitable dietary element for population growth, being consistently avoided by mites in previous laboratory experiments. It is possible that our mites from the CCB have adapted to exploit available resources within this oligotrophic site. This work confirms the trophic relationship between microfungi and mites, two rarely investigated major components of the microbial community, shedding light on the niche dynamics under low-nutrient conditions.

PMID: 30018858 [PubMed]

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