Revealing environmentally driven population dynamics of an Arctic diatom using a novel microsatellite PoolSeq barcoding approach
Klara K. E. Wolf, Clara J. M. Hoppe, Florian Leese, Martina Weiss, Björn Rost, Stefan Neuhaus, Thilo Gross, Nancy Kühne and Uwe John
Environ Microbiol 23, 3809-3824, 2021
Ecological stability under environmental change is determined by both interspecific and intraspecific processes. Particularly for planktonic microorganisms, it is challenging to follow intraspecific dynamics over space and time. We propose a new method, microsatellite PoolSeq barcoding (MPB), for tracing allele frequency changes in protist populations. We successfully applied this method to experimental community incubations and field samples of the diatom Thalassiosira hyalina from the Arctic, a rapidly changing ecosystem. Validation of the method found compelling accuracy in comparison with established genotyping approaches within different diversity contexts. In experimental and environmental samples, we show that MPB can detect meaningful patterns of population dynamics, resolving allelic stability and shifts within a key diatom species in response to experimental treatments as well as different bloom phases and years. Through our novel MPB approach, we produced a large dataset of populations at different time-points and locations with comparably little effort. Results like this can add insights into the roles of selection and plasticity in natural protist populations under stable experimental but also variable field conditions. Especially for organisms where genotype sampling remains challenging, MPB holds great potential to efficiently resolve eco-evolutionary dynamics and to assess the mechanisms and limits of resilience to environmental stressors.