Exploring the taxonomic composition of two fungal communities on the Swedish west coast through metabarcoding
Fungi are heterotrophic, unicellular or filamentous organisms that exhibit a wide range of different lifestyles as, e.g., symbionts, parasites, and saprotrophs. Mycologists have traditionally considered fungi to be a nearly exclusively terrestrial group of organisms, but it is now known that fungi have a significant presence in aquatic environments as well. We know little about most fungi in limnic and marine systems, including aspects of their taxonomy, ecology, and geographic distribution. The present study seeks to improve our knowledge of fungi in the marine environment. The fungal communities of two coastal marine environments of the Kattegat sea, Sweden, were explored with metabarcoding techniques using the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) metabarcode. Our data add new information to the current picture of fungal community composition in benthic and coastal habitats in Northern Europe.
The dataset describes the number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and their taxonomic affiliations in two littoral gradients sampled on the Swedish west coast, Gothenburg municipality. Our data include basic diversity indices as well as chemical and edaphic sediment/soil parameters of the sampling sites. From the sites, 3470 and 4315 fungal OTUs, respectively, were recovered. The number of reads were 673,711 and 779,899, respectively, after quality filtering. Within the benthic sites, more than 80% of the sequences could not be classified taxonomically. The phylum composition of the classifiable sequences was dominated in both localities by Dikarya, which made up around 33% of the OTUs. Within Dikarya, Ascomycota was the dominant phylum. Guild assignment failed for more than half of the classifiable OTUs, with undefined saprotrophs being the most common resolved guild. This guild classification was slightly more common in the ocean sediment samples than in the terrestrial ones. Our metadata indicated that ocean sites contain organisms at a lower trophic level and that there are predominantly endophytic, parasitic, and pathogenic fungi in the marine environments. This hints at the presence of interesting and currently poorly understood fungus-driven ecological processes. It is also clear from our results that a very large number of marine fungi are in urgent need of taxonomic study and formal description.