18S rDNA sequences from microeukaryotes reveal oil indicators in mangrove sediment

Henrique F. Santos, Juliano C. Cury, Flavia L. Carmo, Alexandre S. Rosado, Raquel S. Peixoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Microeukaryotes are an effective indicator of the presence of environmental contaminants. However, the characterisation of these organisms by conventional tools is often inefficient, and recent molecular studies have revealed a great diversity of microeukaryotes. The full extent of this diversity is unknown, and therefore, the distribution, ecological role and responses to anthropogenic effects of microeukaryotes are rather obscure. The majority of oil from oceanic oil spills (e.g., the May 2010 accident in the Gulf of Mexico) converges on coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, which are threatened with worldwide disappearance, highlighting the need for efficient tools to indicate the presence of oil in these environments. However, no studies have used molecular methods to assess the effects of oil contamination in mangrove sediment on microeukaryotes as a group. Methodology/Principal Findings: We evaluated the population dynamics and the prevailing 18S rDNA phylotypes of microeukaryotes in mangrove sediment microcosms with and without oil contamination, using PCR/DGGE and clone libraries. We found that microeukaryotes are useful for monitoring oil contamination in mangroves. Our clone library analysis revealed a decrease in both diversity and species richness after contamination. The phylogenetic group that showed the greatest sensitivity to oil was the Nematoda. After contamination, a large increase in the abundance of the groups Bacillariophyta (diatoms) and Biosoecida was detected. The oil-contaminated samples were almost entirely dominated by organisms related to Bacillariophyta sp. and Cafeteria minima, which indicates that these groups are possible targets for biomonitoring oil in mangroves. The DGGE fingerprints also indicated shifts in microeukaryote profiles; specific band sequencing indicated the appearance of Bacillariophyta sp. only in contaminated samples and Nematoda only in noncontaminated sediment. Conclusions/Significance: We believe that the microeukaryotic targets indicated by our work will be of great applicability in biomonitoring hydrocarbons in mangroves under oil contamination risk or during recovery strategies. © 2010 Santos et al.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 19 2010
Externally publishedYes


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