Hidden diversity of eukaryotic plankton in the soda lake Nakuru, Kenya, during a phase of low salinity revealed by a SSU rRNA gene clone library
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A SSU rRNA gene clone library was constructed to establish the diversity of eukaryotic plankton in the African soda lake Nakuru during a phase of low salinity (9.7 ppt = hyposaline). Normally, the lake is mesosaline (up to 50 ppt) and its phytoplankton is dominated by few species of cyanobacteria, in particular Arthrospira fusiformis, which is the main food resource of Lesser Flamingos. Our study recovered a unique phytoplankton species composition characterized by a high diversity of monadoid and coccoid green algae. Out of 77 clones detected, 52 belonged to Chlorophyta. Many of the chlorophytes were transported from the catchment area into the lake through small seasonal rivers and an outflow of the Nakuru town sewage treatment plant. Other phylogenetic groups detected were Fungi, Cryptophyta, Jakobida, Alveolata, Stramenopiles, and Metazoa. Our findings reveal a hidden diversity, which would not have been detected by traditional observations.