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Fungicide effects on the structure and functioning of leaf-associated aquatic fungal communities

  • Aquatic hyphomycetes are a polyphyletic group of saprotrophic fungi growing abundantly on submerged leaf litter. In stream ecosystems shaped by allochthonous leaf litter inputs, they play a central functional role as decomposers and food source for other organisms. Fungicides pose a threat to aquatic hyphomycetes and their functions, since these substances are inherently toxic to fungi and contaminate surface waters around the world due to their widespread use in agricultural and urban landscapes. While fungicides’ potential to reduce fungal diversity are discerned, the extent of impacts on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships (B EF) remains unclear. This is partly attributed to methodological constraints in the detection and quantification of single aquatic hyphomycete species within microbial leaf-associated communities. The primary aim of this thesis was, therefore, (1) to assess the ecotoxicological impacts of fungicides on B-EF relationships in aquatic hyphomycete communities. To facilitate this, subordinate aims were to (2) develop DNA-based biomolecular tools (i.e., qPCR assays) to detect and to quantify the biomass of different aquatic hyphomycete species in mixed cultures and (3) to investigate the mechanisms underlying B-EF relationships in the absence of chemical stressors. In the course of this thesis, qPCR assays were developed for detection and species-specific biomass quantification of ten common aquatic hyphomycete species and successfully validated for application in eco( toxico )logical microcosm experiments. Via a systematic manipulation of fungal diversity, these assays allow the examination of B-EF relationships by assessments of deviations between observed and (monoculture-based) predicted activities in fungal mixed cultures. Taking advantage of these tools in a microcosm experiment, it was uncovered that leaf decomposition results from the additive activity of community members, even though functionally distinct species were present. Colonization dynamics are characterized by complex interactions. Colonization success of aquatic hyphomycetes is higher if co-occurring species are genetically and functionally distinct (i.e., complementary interactions). However, the co-occurrence of aquatic hyphomycete species does not necessarily result in a greater colonization success compared to monocultures, unless bacteria are present. Accordingly, the presence of other microbial groups such as bacteria may induce new fungal diversity-based feedback loops, which ultimately enable coexistence of aquatic hyphomycete species in the environment. Exposure to fungicides revealed substantial differences in sensitivities among aquatic hyphomycetes. The most productive species were able to cope with extremely high fungicide concentrations up to the mg/L-range. In assemblages containing these species, leaf decomposition was maintained under fungicide exposure. Yet, already at environmentally relevant fungicide concentrations, tolerant species displaced more sensitive ones, potentially affecting leaves’ nutritional quality for consumers. This thesis thus indicates that fungicide exposure poses a risk to stream food webs rather than the microbial leaf decomposition process per se.

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Author:Patrick Baudy-Groh
Title Additional (German):Effekte von Fungiziden auf die Struktur und Funktion laubassoziierter aquatischer Pilzgemeinschaften
Referee:Mirco Bundschuh, Ralf Schulz
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2022/07/08
Date of publication:2022/08/26
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 7
Date of final exam:2022/07/08
Release Date:2022/08/26
Tag:laubassoziierter aquatischer Pilzgemeinschaften
Fungicide; leaf-associated aquatic fungal communities
GND Keyword:Fungizid
Number of pages:III, 188 Seiten
Kumulative Dissertation
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG