• Diverse groups of fungi are associated with plastics in the surface waters of the Western South Atlantic and the Antarctic Peninsula

      Lacerda, A.L.d.F.; Proietti, M.C.; Secchi, E.R.; Taylor, Joe D. (2020-05)
      Marine plastic pollution has a range of negative impacts for biota and the colonization of plastics in the marine environment by microorganisms may have significant ecological impacts. However, data on epiplastic organisms, particularly fungi, is still lacking for many ocean regions. To evaluate plastic associated fungi and their geographic distribution, we characterised plastics sampled from surface waters of the western South Atlantic (WSA) and Antarctic Peninsula (AP), using DNA metabarcoding of three molecular markers (ITS2, 18S rRNA V4 and V9 regions). Numerous taxa from eight fungal phyla and a total of 64 orders were detected, including groups that had not yet been described associated with plastics. There was a varied phylogenetic assemblage of predominantly known saprotrophic taxa within the Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. We found a range of marine cosmopolitan genera present on plastics in both locations, i.e., Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Wallemia and a number of taxa unique to each region, as well as a high variation of taxa such as Chytridiomycota and Aphelidomycota between locations. Within these basal fungal groups we identified a number of phylogenetically novel taxa. This is the first description of fungi from the Plastisphere within the Southern Hemisphere, and highlights the need to further investigate the potential impacts of plastic associated fungi on other organisms and marine ecosystems.