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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2011 May-Jun;58(3):203-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.2011.00537.x. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

The role of photosynthesis and food uptake for the growth of marine mixotrophic dinoflagellates.

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Marine Biological Section, Strandpromenaden 5, DK-3000 Helsingør, Denmark.


Mixotrophy (i.e. combined use of photosynthesis and food uptake for growth) is widespread among marine dinoflagellates. Species with permanent chloroplasts generally display a growth response towards irradiance like an ordinary autotrophic alga. However, some species cannot grow in the light on a standard inorganic nutrient medium, because they require the ingestion of prey for sustained growth. This includes species with various types of chloroplast origin. Only a few species have been shown to be able to grow in the dark if supplied prey. About half of the studied species were primarily phototrophic species, and food uptake marginally increased their growth rates at low irradiances. In the remaining species, food uptake increases to a large degree their growth rate when light is limiting and in some cases even when irradiance is not limiting growth. Some of these species grow relatively fast at high irradiances without food, while other species only grow slowly or cannot even maintain themselves at high irradiances without food. Dinoflagellates, which form symbioses with endo- and ectosymbionts are a very heterogeneous group, which have been studied only sporadically. Some species are clearly primarily phototrophs, while others rely heavily on food uptake for growth.

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