Taxonomic diversity, host–parasite interactions, and experimental research on chytrids that parasitize diatoms

Description: Diatoms are a major source of primary production on Earth, a major source of food in aquatic systems, a key component of the silica cycle, and are carbon capturers in oceans. They are also explored as sources of biofuels, food, and more. Yet, much remains to be learned regarding parasites of diatoms, namely the chytrids -- members of the Kingdom fungi, and a group that has been reported to cause epidemics of over 90% fatality in diatom populations. Given the ubiquity of diatoms, their importance in natural and economic systems, and the massive impact epidemics can have on populations, the relative lack of knowledge regarding parasitism by chytrids is alarming. Here we introduce chytrids, discuss the potential methods they employ to infect diatoms, suggest some ways diatoms may respond, and highlight a few limitations. Additionally, we touch on the experimental work that has been performed thus far exploring chytrids parasitic on diatoms, and we suggest some avenues potential research may follow. The identification of chytrids is not a part of this webinar, but some references are included to help those who are interested get started!

Target Audience: Anyone interested in diatoms will be amazed to learn about the parasites that strongly influence diatom assemblages.