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. 2017 Jul 11;5:e3532.
doi: 10.7717/peerj.3532. eCollection 2017.

Fungi Associated With Mesophotic Macroalgae From the 'Au'au Channel, West Maui Are Differentiated by Host and Overlap Terrestrial Communities

Free PMC article

Fungi Associated With Mesophotic Macroalgae From the 'Au'au Channel, West Maui Are Differentiated by Host and Overlap Terrestrial Communities

Benjamin J Wainwright et al. PeerJ. .
Free PMC article


Mesophotic coral ecosystems are an almost entirely unexplored and undocumented environment that likely contains vast reservoirs of undescribed biodiversity. Twenty-four macroalgae samples, representing four genera, were collected from a Hawaiian mesophotic reef at water depths between 65 and 86 m in the 'Au'au Channel, Maui, Hawai'i. Algal tissues were surveyed for the presence and diversity of fungi by sequencing the ITS1 gene using Illumina technology. Fungi from these algae were then compared to previous fungal surveys conducted in Hawaiian terrestrial ecosystems. Twenty-seven percent of the OTUs present on the mesophotic coral ecosystem samples were shared between the marine and terrestrial environment. Subsequent analyses indicated that host species of algae significantly differentiate fungal community composition. This work demonstrates yet another understudied habitat with a moderate diversity of fungi that should be considered when estimating global fungal diversity.

Keywords: Biodiversity; Connectivity; Fungi; Hawaii; ITS; Marine; Mesophotic coral ecosytems.

Conflict of interest statement

Anthony S. Amend is an Academic Editor for PeerJ.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Picture is taken at ∼90 m depth and shows a rebreather diver with the submersible Pisces V working together collecting corals and macroalgae in the ‘Au‘au Channel (Image credit: Robert K. Whitton).
Figure 2
Figure 2. Manipulator arm of the Pisces V submersible collecting Microdictyon umbilicatum (Image credit: Hawaii Undersea Research Lab).
Figure 3
Figure 3. Map showing the location of sampling sites, box represents the approximate location all samples were collected from within the ‘Au‘au Channel.
See Table 1 for GPS co-ordinates of collection sites. Map downloaded from
Figure 4
Figure 4. Boxplot showing richness of OTUs from each algal host.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Heatmap showing relative abundance of shared OTUs found in mesophotic aglae and terrestrial sites.
Only the 39 OTUs found in both the MCE and FFE ecosystems are shown (rows). Lighter color indicates greater relative abundance. The cladogram is based on Bray–Curtis dissimilarity. Samples (columns) shown in blue are from MCE and samples shown in green are from FFE. Six OTUs of interest (those shared OTUs that are reliably more abundant in MCE samples) are labeled with their top BLAST hit taxonomic assignments.

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Grant support

This work was supported by NSF award #1255972 (ASA). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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