Microscopic plankton-assassin dominates Antarctic ocean
Using a high-throughput DNA sequencing technique, Australian scientists have discovered that a largely unknown Syndiniales parasite is unexpectedly abundant in waters around Antarctica.
“These parasites are a natural part of ocean biology, but our research has shown they are super-abundant in the ocean surrounding Antarctica,” Dr Clarke said.
“Up to half of the DNA in water samples from the ice edge was from a single type of plankton parasite, which suggests we are underestimating their influence in the food chain.”
When plankton parasites infect and kill their host, they rob higher order species like krill of a potential source of nutrition.
The discovery was made using a technique known as high-throughput DNA sequencing, which can massively speed up the process of identifying different species in a water sample.
“High-throughput DNA sequencing now gives us the ability to explore microbial biodiversity in the ocean with unprecedented speed and accuracy.”