Culture-independent molecular methods based on the amplification, cloning and sequencing of small-subunit ribosomal RNA genes (SSU rDNAs) are powerful tools to study the diversity of microorganisms. Despite so, the eukaryotic microbial diversity of many ecosystems, including peatlands has not yet received much attention. We analysed the eukaryotic diversity by molecular surveys in water from the centre of a pristine Sphagnum-dominated peatland in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland during a complete seasonal cycle. The clone libraries constructed from five different temporal samplings revealed a high diversity of protists with representatives of all major eukaryotic phyla. In addition, four sequence types could not be assigned to any known high-level eukaryotic taxon but branched together with a rather good statistic support, raising the possibility of a novel, deep branching eukaryotic clade. The analysis of seasonal patterns of phylotypes showed a clear change in the eukaryotic communities between the warm period (late spring and summer) and the cold period (autumn and winter). Chrysophytes dominated the samples in the cold period while testate amoebae (Arcellinida and Euglyphida) and a few other groups peaked in summer. A few phylotypes (such as a cryptomonad and a perkinsid) were abundant at given sampling times and then almost disappeared, suggesting bloom-like dynamics. (C) 2010 Published by Elsevier GmbH.