We focuses on an energetic role of parasitic fungi in a plankton food web. Zoospores of the fungi infecting phytoplankton can be digested by insusceptible zooplankton. In some lakes it can contribute to > 50% of zooplankton diet during the bloom of inedible phytoplankton.
We consider the case when this feeding link creates an additional energy pathway from inedible host phytoplankton to zooplankton. This can be critical for zooplankton survival when the inedible phytoplankton dominates phytoplankton community.
- The studied plankton community consisting of edible non-host phytoplankton and inedible host phytoplankton competing for a share limiting nutrient. Parasitic fungi infect only the inedible host phytoplankton, releasing zoospores for new infection that can be consumed by zooplankton who usually consumes the edible non-host phytoplankton.
- Research questions:
- How important is this fungus-mediated energy pathway for filter feeder and selective zooplankton under eutrophication? see our preprint here DOI: 10.22541/au.165242164.42085715/v1 (under revision - 08/2022)
- Comparison between model prediction and experimental data, how does this host-parasite interaction influence community dynamics? (manuscript is under preparation)
Personal research interest
From my investigations for PhD research project, I see how cool the distinctive trophic strategy of parasites is. I want to expand my finding from a small specific community in an aquatic habitat to develop a general theory of parasite in ecology. Investigating a characteristic function of parasite in a trophic web is my goal to reach after my PhD.