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Ecogenomics of Zooplankton Community Reveals Ecological Threshold of Ammonia Nitrogen

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journal contribution
posted on 13.02.2017, 00:00 by Jianghua Yang, Xiaowei Zhang, Yuwei Xie, Chao Song, Jingying Sun, Yong Zhang, John P. Giesy, Hongxia Yu
Communities of zooplankton can be adversely affected by contamination resulting from human activities. Yet understanding the influence of water quality on zooplankton under field-conditions is hindered by traditional labor-intensive approaches that are prone to incomplete or uncertain taxonomic determinations. Here, for the first time, an eco-genomic approach, based on genetic diversity in the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) region of DNA of zooplankton was used to develop a site-specific, water quality criterion (WQC) for ammonia (NH3). Ammonia has been recognized as a primary stressor in the catchment of the large, eutrophic Tai Lake, China. Nutrients, especially NH3 and nitrite (NO3) had more significant effects on structure of the zooplankton community than did other environmental factors. Abundances of rotifers increased along a gradient of increasing concentrations of total ammonia nitrogen (TAN), while abundances of copepods and cladocera decreased. A novel, rapid, species sensitivity distribution (SSD) approach based on operational taxonomic units (OTUs) was established to develop a WQC for NH3. The WQC based on OTUs was consistent with the WQC based on the traditional morphology taxonomy approach. This genetics-based SSD approach could be a useful tool for monitoring for status and trends in species composition and deriving ecological criteria and an efficient biomonitoring tool to protect local aquatic ecosystems in virtually any aquatic ecosystem.