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Open AccessArticle

Biodiversity of Algae and Cyanobacteria in Biological Soil Crusts Collected Along a Climatic Gradient in Chile Using an Integrative Approach

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Applied Ecology and Phycology, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Straße 3, 18059 Rostock, Germany
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Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Science, Soil Science, University of Rostock, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 6, 18051 Rostock, Germany
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Plant Ecology and Systematics, University of Kaiserslautern, Erwin-Schrödinger-Straße 13, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany
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Applied Logistics and Polymer Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern, Carl-Schurz Straße 10-16, 66953 Pirmasens, Germany
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M.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Tereschenkivska Str. 2, Kyiv 01004, Ukraine
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Microorganisms 2020, 8(7), 1047; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8071047
Received: 19 May 2020 / Revised: 15 June 2020 / Accepted: 26 June 2020 / Published: 14 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Microbiology)
Biocrusts are associations of various prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms in the top millimeters of soil, which can be found in every climate zone on Earth. They stabilize soils and introduce carbon and nitrogen into this compartment. The worldwide occurrence of biocrusts was proven by numerous studies in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America, leaving South America understudied. Using an integrative approach, which combines morphological and molecular characters (small subunit rRNA and ITS region), we examined the diversity of key biocrust photosynthetic organisms at four sites along the latitudinal climate gradient in Chile. The most northern study site was located in the Atacama Desert (arid climate), followed by open shrubland (semiarid climate), a dry forest region (Mediterranean climate) and a mixed broad leaved-coniferous forest (temperate climate) in the south. The lowest species richness was recorded in the desert (18 species), whereas the highest species richness was observed in the Mediterranean zone (40 species). Desert biocrusts were composed exclusively of single-celled Chlorophyta algae, followed by cyanobacteria. Chlorophyta, Streptophyta and cyanobacteria dominated semiarid biocrusts, whereas Mediterranean and temperate Chilean biocrusts were composed mostly of Chlorophyta, Streptophyta and Ochrophyta. Our investigation of Chilean biocrust suggests high biodiversity of South American biocrust phototrophs. View Full-Text
Keywords: biocrust; Chile; eukaryotic algae; cyanobacteria; integrative approach; climate gradient biocrust; Chile; eukaryotic algae; cyanobacteria; integrative approach; climate gradient
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Samolov, E.; Baumann, K.; Büdel, B.; Jung, P.; Leinweber, P.; Mikhailyuk, T.; Karsten, U.; Glaser, K. Biodiversity of Algae and Cyanobacteria in Biological Soil Crusts Collected Along a Climatic Gradient in Chile Using an Integrative Approach. Microorganisms 2020, 8, 1047.

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