Effects of irradiance and prey deprivation on growth, cell carbon and photosynthetic activity of the freshwater kleptoplastidic dinoflagellate Nusuttodinium (= Gymnodinium) aeruginosum (Dinophyceae)

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The freshwater dinoflagellate Nusuttodinium aeruginosum lacks permanent chloroplasts. Rather it sequesters chloroplasts as well as other cell organelles, like mitochondria and nuclei, from ingested cryptophyte prey. In the present study, growth rates, cell production and photosynthesis were measured at seven irradiances, ranging from 10 to 140 µmol photons m-2s-1, when fed the cryptophyte Chroomonas sp. Growth rates were positively influenced by irradiance and increased from 0.025 d-1 at 10 µmol photons m-2s-1 to maximum growth rates of ~0.3 d-1 at irradiances ≥ 40 µmol photons m-2s-1. Similarly, photosynthesis ranged from 1.84 to 36.9 pg C cell-1 h-1 at 10 and 140 µmol photons m-2s-1, respectively. The highest rates of photosynthesis in N. aeruginosum only corresponded to ~25% of its own cell carbon content and estimated biomass production. The measured rates of photosynthesis could not explain the observed growth rates at high irradiances. Cultures of N. aeruginosum subjected to prey starvation were able to survive for at least 27 days in the light. The sequestered chloroplasts maintained their photosynthetic activity during the entire period of starvation, during which the population underwent 4 cell divisions. This indicates that N. aeruginosum has some control of the chloroplasts, which may be able to replicate. In conclusion, N. aeruginosum seems to be in an early stage of chloroplast acquisition with some control of its ingested chloroplasts.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181751
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

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