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Oceanic protists with different forms of acquired phototrophy display contrasting biogeographies and abundance


Leles, SG and Mitra, A and Flynn, KJ and Stoecker, DK and Hansen, PJ and Calbet, A and McManus, GB and Sanders, RW and Caron, DA and Not, F and Hallegraeff, GM and Pitta, P and Raven, JA and Johnson, MD and Glibert, PM and Vage, S, Oceanic protists with different forms of acquired phototrophy display contrasting biogeographies and abundance, Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, 284, (1860) Article 20170664. ISSN 0962-8452 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0664


This first comprehensive analysis of the global biogeography of marine protistan plankton with acquired phototrophy shows these mixotrophic organisms to be ubiquitous and abundant; however, their biogeography differs markedly between different functional groups. These mixotrophs, lacking a constitutive capacity for photosynthesis (i.e. non-constitutive mixotrophs, NCMs), acquire their phototrophic potential through either integration of prey-plastids or through endosymbiotic associations with photosynthetic microbes. Analysis of field data reveals that 40–60% of plankton traditionally labelled as (nonphototrophic) microzooplankton are actually NCMs, employing acquired phototrophy in addition to phagotrophy. Specialist NCMs acquire chloroplasts or endosymbionts from specific prey, while generalist NCMs obtain chloroplasts from a variety of prey. These contrasting functional types of NCMs exhibit distinct seasonal and spatial global distribution patterns. Mixotrophs reliant on ‘stolen’ chloroplasts, controlled by prey diversity and abundance, dominate in high-biomass areas. Mixotrophs harbouring intact symbionts are present in all waters and dominate particularly in oligotrophic open ocean systems. The contrasting temporal and spatial patterns of distribution of different mixotroph functional types across the oceanic provinces, as revealed in this study, challenges traditional interpretations of marine food web structures. Mixotrophs with acquired phototrophy (NCMs) warrant greater recognition in marine research.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mixotrophy, biogeography, acquired phototrophy, Kleptoplasty, photosymbiosis, marine protists
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Phycology (incl. marine grasses)
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - aquaculture
Objective Field:Fisheries - aquaculture not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Hallegraeff, GM (Professor Gustaaf Hallegraeff)
ID Code:120078
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:42
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-08-09
Last Modified:2018-05-28

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