Variation in Snow Algae Blooms in the Coast Range of British Columbia

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Snow algae blooms cover vast areas of summer snowfields worldwide, reducing albedo and increasing snow melt. Despite their global prevalence, little is known about the algae species that comprise these blooms. We used 18S and rbcL metabarcoding and light microscopy to characterize algae species composition in 31 snow algae blooms in the Coast Range of British Columbia, Canada. This study is the first to thoroughly document regional variation between blooms. We found all blooms were dominated by the genera Sanguina, Chloromonas, and Chlainomonas. There was considerable variation between blooms, most notably species assemblages above treeline were distinct from forested sites. In contrast to previous studies, the snow algae genus Chlainomonas was abundant and widespread in snow algae blooms. We found few taxa using traditional 18S metabarcoding, but the high taxonomic resolution of rbcL revealed substantial diversity, including OTUs that likely represent unnamed species of snow algae. These three cross-referenced datasets (rbcL, 18S, and microscopy) reveal that alpine snow algae blooms are more diverse than previously thought, with different species of algae dominating different elevations.
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Engstrom CB, Yakimovich KM and Quarmby LM (2020) Variation in Snow Algae Blooms in the Coast Range of British Columbia. Front. Microbiol. 11:569. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00569.
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Front. Microbiol.
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Variation in Snow Algae Blooms in the Coast Range of British Columbia
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Funder: Genome BC
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