Sedimentary Ancient DNA (sedaDNA) Reveals Fungal Diversity and Environmental Drivers of Community Changes throughout the Holocene in the Present Boreal Lake Lielais Svētiņu (Eastern Latvia)

Microorganisms. 2021 Mar 31;9(4):719. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9040719.


Fungi are ecologically important in several ecosystem processes, yet their community composition, ecophysiological roles, and responses to changing environmental factors in historical sediments are rarely studied. Here we explored ancient fungal DNA from lake Lielais Svētiņu sediment throughout the Holocene (10.5 kyr) using the ITS metabarcoding approach. Our data revealed diverse fungal taxa and smooth community changes during most of the Holocene with rapid changes occurring in the last few millennia. More precisely, plankton parasitic fungi became more diverse from the Late Holocene (2-4 kyr) which could be related to a shift towards a cooler climate. The Latest Holocene (~2 kyr) showed a distinct increase in the richness of plankton parasites, mycorrhizal, and plant pathogenic fungi which can be associated with an increased transfer rate of plant material into the lake and blooms of planktonic organisms influenced by increased, yet moderate, human impact. Thus, major community shifts in plankton parasites and mycorrhizal fungi could be utilized as potential paleo-variables that accompany host-substrate dynamics. Our work demonstrates that fungal aDNA with predicted ecophysiology and host specificity can be employed to reconstruct both aquatic and surrounding terrestrial ecosystems and to estimate the influence of environmental change.

Keywords: ITS; environmental drivers; fungal biodiversity; lake sediments; metabarcoding; paleoecology; paleoenvironment; paleogenetics; paleolimnology; sedimentary ancient DNA.