Respiration, Production, and Growth Efficiency of Marine Pelagic Fungal Isolates

Marilena Heitger, Federico Baltar

Despite recent studies suggesting that marine fungi are ubiquitous in oceanic systems and involved in organic matter degradation, their role in the carbon cycle of the oceans is still not characterized and fungal respiration and production are understudied. This study focused on determining fungal growth efficiencies and its susceptibility to temperature differences and nutrient concentration. Hence, respiration and biomass production of three fungal isolates (Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, Rhodotorula sphaerocarpa, Sakaguchia dacryoidea) were measured in laboratory experiments at two temperatures and two nutrient concentrations. We found that fungal respiration and production rates differed among species, temperature, and nutrient concentration. Fungal respiration and production were higher at higher temperatures, but higher fungal growth efficiencies were observed at lower temperatures. Nutrient concentration affected fungal respiration, production, and growth efficiency, but its influence differed among species. Altogether, this study provides the first growth efficiency estimates of pelagic fungi, providing novel insights into the role of fungi as source/sink of carbon during organic matter remineralization. Further research is now needed to unravel the role of pelagic fungi in the marine carbon cycle, a topic that gains even more importance in times of increasing CO2 concentrations and global warming.

Functional and Evolutionary Ecology
Journal of Fungi
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106021 Marine biology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Microbiology (medical), Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, Plant Science
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 14 - Life Below Water
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