Pagenkopp Lohan, K. M., Fleischer, Robert C., Carney, K. J., Holzer, Kimberly K., and Ruiz, Gregory M. 2016. "Amplicon-Based Pyrosequencing Reveals High Diversity of Protistan Parasites in Ships' Ballast Water: Implications for Biogeography and Infectious Diseases." Microbial ecology 71 (3):530-542. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-015-0684-6
Ships' ballast water (BW) commonly moves macroorganisms and microorganisms across the world's oceans and along coasts; however, the majority of these microbial transfers have gone undetected. We applied high-throughput sequencing methods to identify microbial eukaryotes, specifically emphasizing the protistan parasites, in ships' BW collected from vessels calling to the Chesapeake Bay (Virginia and Maryland, USA) from European and Eastern Canadian ports. We utilized tagged-amplicon 454 pyrosequencing with two general primer sets, amplifying either the V4 or V9 domain of the small subunit (SSU) of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene complex, from total DNA extracted from water samples collected from the ballast tanks of bulk cargo vessels. We detected a diverse group of protistan taxa, with some known to contain important parasites in marine systems, including Apicomplexa (unidentified apicomplexans, unidentified gregarines, Cryptosporidium spp.), Dinophyta (Blastodinium spp., Euduboscquella sp., unidentified syndinids, Karlodinium spp., Syndinium spp.), Perkinsea (Parvilucifera sp.), Opisthokonta (Ichthyosporea sp., Pseudoperkinsidae, unidentified ichthyosporeans), and Stramenopiles (Labyrinthulomycetes). Further characterization of groups with parasitic taxa, consisting of phylogenetic analyses for four taxa (Cryptosporidium spp., Parvilucifera spp., Labyrinthulomycetes, and Ichthyosporea), revealed that sequences were obtained from both known and novel lineages. This study demonstrates that high-throughput sequencing is a viable and sensitive method for detecting parasitic protists when present and transported in the ballast water of ships. These data also underscore the potential importance of human-aided dispersal in the biogeography of these microbes and emerging diseases in the world's oceans.