Map of samples around Iceland, use for metabarcoding.

The distribution and diversity of eukaryotic phytoplankton in the Icelandic marine environment


Phytoplankton play a crucial role in the marine food web and are sensitive indicators of environmental change. Iceland is at the center of a contrasting hydrography, with cold Arctic water coming in from the north and warmer Atlantic water from the south, making this geographical location very sensitive to climate change. The use of phytoplankton biomass as environmental indicator around Iceland finds that more information is needed about their diversity and distribution in this area of accelerated climate change. DNA metabarcoding can help determine the biogeography of phytoplankton in relation to oceanographic parameters by providing high resolution information on microbial diversity and distribution, particularly the diversity of cryptic and small species that are often not detected by microscopy. Seawater samples were collected in spring (2012 to 2018), summer (2017) and winter (2018) together with corresponding physico-chemical metadata around Iceland. Amplicon sequencing of the V4 region of the 18S rRNA gene indicates that eukaryotic phytoplankton community composition is different between the northern and southern water masses, with some genera completely absent from Polar Water masses. Emiliania was more dominant in the Atlantic-influenced waters and in summer, and Phaeocystis was more dominant in the colder, northern waters and in winter. The Chlorophyta picophytoplankton genus, Micromonas, was similarly dominant to the key diatom genus, Chaetoceros. This study presents an extensive dataset which can be linked with other 18s rRNA datasets for further investigation into the diversity and biogeography of marine protists in the North Atlantic.

Scientific Reports (submitted)