Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

2003

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Scott Schatz

Second Advisor

Andrew Rogerson

Third Advisor

Harold Laubach

Abstract

This study addresses the fungi of two poorly studied subtropical coastal habitats: a mangrove site and recreational sandy beaches. Little is known regarding the occurrence and distribution of the higher filamentous fungi in mangroves of South Florida. Previous studies have demonstrated that marine fungi are an important degradative component and assume an important role in nutrient recycling systems in estuarine and near-shore ecosystems. In this study over 30 species of higher filamentous fungi were identified from driftwood collected in the mangroves in J.U. Lloyd State Park over a period of one year. The drift wood collected was mainly comprised of pieces of Rhizophora mangle and Conocarpus erectus. The predominant species, by frequency of occurrence, include the Ascomycetes Hypoxylon oceanicum (8.7%), Leptosphaeria australiensis (15.6%), Lulworthia grandispora (5.2%), and Nais glitra (11.6%) as well as the Fungi Imperfecti Humicola alopallonella (5%) and Cirrenalia species (6.4%). A new record for Florida is the Ascomycete Massarina velatospora, and a new host record for Phaeosphaeria gessneri occurring on R. mangle is reported. In addition, a description of two undescribed ascomycetous species is included. Overall, the marine mycota of South Florida appears to be very similar to that reported for other tropical and subtropical regions.

Another site with important overlooked fungal components is the sand of bathing beaches. The second purpose of this study was to obtain mean counts of colony forming units (CFUs) of yeasts from the wet and dry sand of three bathing beaches in South Florida. The different yeast species were also isolated and identified, using molecular methods, in order to see whether there are any pathogenic species that grow in the sand. A total of 21 yeast species were identified including 4 Basidiomycetes and 17 Ascomycetes. Several species are known to be human pathogens. The most frequently occurring species included the Ascomycete Candida tropicalis and the Basidiomycete Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. Both species diversity and total mean counts of CFUs were found to be higher in the dry sand vs the wet sand, probably as the result of a more stable habitat. Mean counts were highest at the most crowded beach, suggesting that humans and warm-blooded animals may serve as a source of contamination of the sand.

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