Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 205–219 | Cite as

The role of fungi in processing marine organic matter in the upwelling ecosystem off Chile

  • M. H. Gutiérrez
  • S. PantojaEmail author
  • E. Tejos
  • R. A. Quiñones
Original Paper


In a study that spanned from March 2007 through November 2009, we report high fungal biomass and over 90% of extracellular enzymatic activity occurring in the size classes dominated by fungi during periods of high autotrophic biomass in surface waters of the upwelling ecosystem off central-southern Chile (36°30.80′S–73°07.70′W). Fungal biomass in the water column was determined by the abundance of hyphae and was positively correlated with the concentration of the fungal biomarker 18:2ω6. High fungal biomass during active upwelling periods was comparable to that of prokaryotes (bacteria plus archaea) and was associated with an increase in phytoplankton biomass and in extracellular enzymatic hydrolysis in waters from the depth of maximum fluorescence. We show fungi as a new microbial component in the coastal upwelling ecosystem of the Humboldt Current System off central Chile. Our results suggest that the temporal pattern in fungal biomass in the water column during a year cycle is a reflection of their capacity to hydrolyze organic polymers and, in consequence, fungal biomass and activity respond to a seasonal cycle of upwelling in this ecosystem.


Fungal Biomass Maximum Fluorescence Extracellular Enzymatic Activity Austral Spring Extracellular Enzymatic Hydrolysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was funded by the Programa de Investigación Marina de Excelencia, PIMEX-Nueva Aldea (University of Concepcion and Celulosa Arauco y Constitución S.A.) and the COPAS Center (Grant 150100007, CONICYT, Chile). We are thankful to the COPAS Time Series team and the R/V Kay-Kay II crew for their valuable help during field work. We also wish to thank Lilian Nuñez, Rodrigo Castro, Jaime Soto and Patricio Ampuero from the Marine Organic Geochemistry laboratory at UDEC for their valuable help in the laboratory analyses. MG acknowledges the support of the Agreement Fundación Andes/Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution/University of Concepción for funding his research visit to the laboratory of Professor Jack Fell at University of Miami.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. H. Gutiérrez
    • 1
    • 3
  • S. Pantoja
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • E. Tejos
    • 3
  • R. A. Quiñones
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Oceanography, Department of OceanographyUniversity of ConcepcionConcepcionChile
  2. 2.Department of Oceanography and Center for Oceanographic Research in the Eastern South PacificUniversity of ConcepcionConcepcionChile
  3. 3.Program of Marine Research of Excellence (PIMEX-Nueva Aldea), Faculty of Natural and Oceanographic SciencesUniversity of ConcepcionConcepcionChile

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