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Xavier Pochon

Postdoctoral fellow in Molecular Systematics & Environmental Genomics

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  • First evaluation of foraminiferal metabarcoding for monitoring environmental impact from an offshore oil drilling site. Mar. Environ. Res. 2016 Aug;120():225-235. S0141-1136(16)30142-8. 10.1016/j.marenvres.2016.08.009.

    abstract

    At present, environmental impacts from offshore oil and gas activities are partly determined by measuring changes in macrofauna diversity. Morphological identification of macrofauna is time-consuming, expensive and dependent on taxonomic expertise. In this study, we evaluated the applicability of using foraminiferal-specific metabarcoding for routine monitoring. Sediment samples were collected along distance gradients from two oil platforms off Taranaki (New Zealand) and their physico-chemical properties, foraminiferal environmental DNA/RNA, and macrofaunal composition analyzed. Macrofaunal and foraminiferal assemblages showed similar shifts along impact gradients, but responded differently to environmental perturbations. Macrofauna were affected by hypoxia, whereas sediment grain size appeared to drive shifts in foraminifera. We identified eight foraminiferal molecular operational taxonomic units that have potential to be used as bioindicator taxa. Our results show that metabarcoding represents an effective tool for assessing foraminiferal communities near offshore oil and gas platforms, and that it can be used to complement current monitoring techniques.

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  • Molecular evidence for host-symbiont specificity in soritid foraminifera. Protist 2005 Dec;156(4):399-412. S1434-4610(05)00059-3. 10.1016/j.protis.2005.08.003.

    abstract

    Symbiosis between the dinoflagellate genus Symbiodinium and various invertebrates and protists is an ubiquitous phenomenon in shallow tropical and subtropical waters. Molecular studies undertaken on cnidarian symbionts revealed the presence of several distinctive lineages or subgeneric clades of Symbiodinium whose taxonomic level provides limited information about the specificity between invertebrate hosts and their symbionts. This contrasts with the finding of several Symbiodinium clades being present almost exclusively in foraminifera and belonging to the subfamily Soritinae. To test whether such specificity also exists at a lower taxonomic level within Soritinae, we obtained the SSU rDNA sequences from 159 soritid individuals collected in nine localities worldwide and representing all known morphospecies of this subfamily. For each individual, the symbionts were determined either by sequencing or by RFLP analysis. We distinguished 22 phylotypes of Soritinae in relation with a number of symbiont "groups" corresponding to 3 clades and 5 subclades of Symbiodinium. Among the 22 soritid phylotypes, 14 show strict symbiont specificity and only one was found to be a host for more than two "groups" of Symbiodinium. It is suggested that the strong host-symbiont specificity observed in Soritinae is a combined effect of a selective recognition mechanism, vertical transmission of symbionts, and biogeographical isolation.

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  • Molecular phylogeny, evolutionary rates, and divergence timing of the symbiotic dinoflagellate genus Symbiodinium. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 2006 Jan;38(1):20-30. S1055-7903(05)00171-5. 10.1016/j.ympev.2005.04.028.

    abstract

    Symbiotic dinoflagellates belonging to the genus Symbiodinium are found in association with a wide variety of shallow-water invertebrates and protists dwelling in tropical and subtropical coral-reef ecosystems. Molecular phylogeny of Symbiodinium, initially inferred using nuclear ribosomal genes, was recently confirmed by studies of chloroplastic and mitochondrial genes, but with limited taxon sampling and low resolution. Here, we present the first complete view of Symbiodinium phylogeny based on concatenated partial sequences of chloroplast 23S-rDNA (cp23S) and nuclear 28S-rDNA (nr28S) genes, including all known Symbiodinium lineages. Our data produced a well resolved phylogenetic tree and provide a strong statistical support for the eight distinctive clades (A-H) that form the major taxa of Symbiodinium. The relative-rate tests did not show particularly high differences between lineages and both analysed markers. However, maximum likelihood ratio tests rejected a global molecular clock. Therefore, we applied a relaxed molecular clock method to infer the divergence times of all extant lineages of Symbiodinium, calibrating its phylogenetic tree with the fossil record of soritid foraminifera. Our analysis suggests that Symbiodinium originated in early Eocene, and that the majority of extant lineages diversified since mid-Miocene, about 15 million years ago.

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  • A marine dinoflagellate, Amphidinium eilatiensis n. sp., from the benthos of a mariculture sedimentation pond in Eilat, Israel. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. ;50(6):439-48.

    abstract

    A species of Amphidinium bloomed in a mariculture sedimentation pond that was used to grow bivalves near the Gulf of Eilat, Israel. Its overall length averaged 13 microm, the hypocone was 11 microm, and its width was 8 microm. It has a ventral ridge. The sulcus begins at the longitudinal flagellar pore and does not project forward in the apex toward the transverse flagellar pore and left margin of the cingulum. The sulcus is a very shallow groove that projects variably about a third of the body length toward the antapex. The cingulum is a deep groove as it circles the cell from the left ventral side to the dorsal side and then becomes very shallow on the right ventral side as it arches posterior toward the longitudinal flagellar pore. Using a modified method for studying dinoflagellate chromosomes in the SEM, we observed 31 chromosomes. The plastid is dorsal and peripheral with 6 ventrally projecting peripheral digital lobes that wrap around the sides of the ventral and posterior nucleus. Amphidinium eilatiensis n. sp. is morphologically closest to Amphidinium carterae and Amphidinium rhynchocephalum, but it does not have the obvious thecal plates or polygonal units described for the former species. Instead, it has a series of spicules, bumps, and ridges on its surface. It differs from A. rhynchocephalum by two morphological characters: surface morphology and gross plastid architecture. The amplified fragments of the rDNA from A. eilatiensis n. sp. isolated from 2 separate sedimentation ponds in Eilat include the 3'- end of the SSU rDNA (about 100 nt), the whole ITS region (ITS1 + 5.8S + ITS2) and the 5'-end of the LSU rDNA (about 900 nts). The total length of the sequences ranged from 1,460 nt. (A. eilatiensis isolate #1) to 1,461 nts. (A. eilatiensis isolate #2). The latter sequences are identical, the difference in length being due to three insertions. Amphidinium eilatiensis is genetically more closely related to A. carterae than to A. klebsii, with respectively 2.36% and 6.93% of sequence divergence.

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