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Mixotrophy and pelagic ecosystem dynamics

Abstract : Protist species were traditionally classified morphologically as either „plants“ or „animals“, based on the absence or presence of chloroplasts. State of science is that a high number of protist species carrychloroplasts but are nutritionally able to employ both autotrophy (photosynthesis) and heterotrophywithin a single cell. This combination of autotrophic and heterotrophic mode of nutrition within a single species is named mixotrophy. In protists, heterotrophy can be realized either by the uptake of food particles (e.g. bacterial prey) through phagocytosis or by the uptake of dissolved organic compounds (i.e.osmotrophy). Mixotrophy is globally and increasingly described in protists from all types of aquatic habitats. Plankton ecologists nowadays assess mixotrophy among the traditionally typified “phyto”plankton and mikro”zoo”plankton species as regularity. Nevertheless, detection and quantification of mixotrophy is still a methodological challenge. In this study, we focused on mixotrophy in marine phytoplankton species and put emphasis on its phagotrophic nutrition from heterotrophic bacterial prey. State of the art methodology was tested to visualize mixotrophy in single phytoplankton cells. Catalyzedreported deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization (Card-FISH), using 16S ribosomal RNA probes,was employed based on existing protocols for bacteria and protists. The method proved to be a valuable tool to visualise bacterial phylogenetic groups in association with phytoplankton by epifluorescence microscopy without need for prior isolation of cells or interference with the microbial association.However, the method failed to visualize mixotrophy in phytoplankton since the general eubacterial probe(EUB338) hybridised a broad range of phytoplankton species making it impossible to discriminate fluorescent signals originating from bacterial or phytoplankton tissue. Background of these studies is phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria being major competitors for dissolved inorganic nutrients. In case that bacterial growth is carbon limited, increasing concentrations of degradable dissolved organic carbon (DOC) enhance bacterial growth and consumption of dissolved nutrients and there by negatively affect autotrophic phytoplankton growth. Bacteria consuming mixotrophic phytoflagellates, however, may gain in importance in such situations since DOC provokes higher bacterial prey supply.In addition, our results indicate a potential positive effect of temperature on O. minima´s heterotrophic nutrition mode, and indicate a potential increasing contribution of mixotrophic species to phytoplankton communities under increasing sea surface water temperatures.
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Vera de Schryver. Mixotrophy and pelagic ecosystem dynamics. Ecosystems. Université de Bretagne occidentale - Brest; Christian Albrechts-Universität (Kiel, Allemagne), 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013BRES0045⟩. ⟨tel-02107330⟩

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