Structure and Dynamics of Periphyton in a Neotropical Freshwater Lake, with Emphasis on Ciliates and Their Relationships with Bacterial Taxa
Periphyton communities in freshwater systems play an essential role in biogeochemical processes, but knowledge of their structure and dynamics lags far behind other environments. We used eDNA metabarcoding of 16S and 18S rRNA markers to investigate the formation and establishment of a periphytic community, in addition to a morphology-based approach for peritrich ciliate determinations, its most abundant group. We sampled two nearby sites within a large Neotropical lake at four time points, aiming to assess whether periphyton establishment can be replicated on this local scale. Producers and denitrifers were abundant in the community, illustrating the relevant role of bioflms in freshwater nutrient recycling. Among microeukaryotes, peritrich ciliates dominated the community, with genera Epistylis and Vorticella being the most abundant and showing a clear succession at both sites. Other ciliates were morphologically identifed and, in some cases, their occurrence was strongly related to bacterial abundance. The structure of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic components of periphyton was not diferent, while the turnover dynamics difered between the two sites, in spite of their adjacent locations and similar abiotic properties. This indicates that the establishment of these communities can vary even on a local scale within a lake ecosystem.
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