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Photosynthetic picoeukaryotes (PPEs) play an important role in aquatic ecosystem functioning. There is still a relative lack of information on freshwater PPEs, especially in eutrophic lakes. We used a combination of flow cytometric sorting and pyrosequencing to investigate the PPEs community structure in more than 20 mesotrophic and eutrophic lakes along the middle-lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China. The abundance of PPEs ranged between 2.04 × 103 and 5.92 × 103 cells mL−1. The contribution of PPEs to total picophytoplankton abundance was generally higher in eutrophic lakes than in mesotrophic lakes. The sequencing results indicated that the Shannon diversity of PPEs was significantly higher in mesotrophic lakes than in eutrophic lakes. At the class level, PPEs were mainly dominated by three taxonomic groups, including Cryptophyceae, Coscinodiscophyceae and Chlorophyceae, and 15 additional known phytoplankton classes, including Synurophyceae, Dinophyceae, Chrysophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Prymnesiophyceae, were identified. Coscinodiscophyceae dominated in the most eutrophic lakes, while Chrysophyceae, Dinophyceae and other classes of PPEs were more abundant in the mesotrophic lakes. We also observed several PPEs operational taxonomic units, and those affiliated with Cyclotella atomus, Chlamydomonas sp. and Poterioochromonas malhamensis tended to be more prevalent in the eutrophic lakes. The canonical correspondence analysis and Mantel analysis highlighted the importance of environmental parameters as key drivers of PPEs community composition.