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Biodiversity of carapace epibiont diatoms in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta Linnaeus 1758) in the Aegean Sea Turkish coast

Abstract : Background. The Aegean Sea coast of Turkey hosts one of the most important nesting grounds for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean Sea. Previous studies have revealed that the sea turtle carapace provides favourable conditions for various epibiontic organisms. Epibionts occurring on the carapace have been examined from different locations in the oceans. Methods. This is the first time such a high number (39) of samples collected from nesting turtles during such a long time period (extending from 2011 to 2018) has been used for the study of the diatom component of the microbiome on the turtle carapaces. A total of 33 samples were investigated in terms of light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Six unprocessed biofilm fragments were subject to SEM observations. Results. A total of 457 epizoic diatom taxa belonging to 86 genera were identified. Epizoic forms, e.g., Achnanthes spp., Chelonicola spp. or Tripterion spp. (also identified by SEM observations of the undisturbed pieces of the microbiome) dominated in terms of relative abundance, but the highest numbers of taxa were ubiquitously represented by Navicula (79), Nitzschia (45), Amphora (40), Cocconeis (32), Diploneis (25) and Mastogloia (23). Navicula perminuta and Delphineis australis were the most frequent taxa, present in 65% of the samples, both with an average relative abundance of 10%. The results of our study revealed that diatoms are an essential component of the loggerhead sea turtles' microbiome, in terms of high biodiversity and abundance. Although strict epibionts provide a signature of the turtle microbiome, the carapace as a solid substrate attracts numerous benthic diatom species which are consideredopportunistic forms and can be found in the surrounding benthic habitats of the vastocean littoral space.
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Aydın Kaleli, Ana Car, Andrzej Witkowski, Marta Krzywda, Catherine Riaux-Gobin, et al.. Biodiversity of carapace epibiont diatoms in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta Linnaeus 1758) in the Aegean Sea Turkish coast. PeerJ, PeerJ, 2020, 8, pp.e9406. ⟨10.7717/peerj.9406⟩. ⟨hal-02982546⟩

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