Molecular ecology of eukaryotic symbioses in the planktonic ecosystems of the oceanic photic zone

Abstract : The oceans, which cover nearly 70 % of the earth's surface, is host to a myriad of mostly microscopic organisms that drift with the currents and are collectively called plankton. As in other ecosystems, symbioses play a major role in the functioning and equilibrium of the plankton. But the exact nature and strength of those symbiotic interactions are still poorly known, not only due to the small size of most planktonic organisms, but also because of the inherent difficulty of sampling planktonic ecosystems, especially in the high-seas. The main goals of this thesis are to give a global view of the importance of planktonic symbioses and to propose novel methods for their detection. The work presented in this manuscript is based on analyses of data generated during the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2013), during which sea water was collected and size fractionated by filtration at 210 sampling locations distributed across the world's oceans. The data analyses presented herein mostly focus on an environmental metabarcoding dataset obtained from next-generation sequencing (Illumina) of the V9 hypervariable region (~130 nucleotides long) of the 18S small ribosomal subunit of eukaryotic organisms. We begin by assessing the diversity and structure of pico-, nano-, micro and meso-planktonic eukaryotic communities (0.8-2000 μm) in the photic zone of tropical to temperate sea regions. Then, we present two cases of symbioses (Blastodinium-Copepods and Symbiodinium-Tiarina) to illustrate both the difficulties encountered when trying to detect symbiotic relationships using metabarcoding data due to varying specificities of symbiotic relationships, but also the potential solutions offered by size-fractionated sampling to distinguish between the different stages of the life cycle of symbiotic organisms (free living and symbiotic stages). Finally, we propose a set of methods to improve the detection of symbioses by studying the co-occurrence of organisms in planktonic communities: we use the distribution of metabarcodes along size fractions ((piconano- (0.8-5 μm), nano- (5-20 μm), micro- (20-180 μm), and meso-plancton (180-2000 μm)) to distinguish likely free living organisms from those that have a symbiotic life style, and we compare the abundance of genetic groups constructed by clustering metabarcodes at different resolution levels, which allows us to detect interactions occurring above the species level and to evaluate their level of specificity.
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Nicolas Henry. Molecular ecology of eukaryotic symbioses in the planktonic ecosystems of the oceanic photic zone. Biodiversity and Ecology. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016PA066181⟩. ⟨tel-01412337⟩

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