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Protist. 2014 Jan;165(1):66-80. doi: 10.1016/j.protis.2013.11.002. Epub 2013 Dec 7.

Cyttarocylis ampulla, a polymorphic tintinnid ciliate of the marine plankton.

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Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), UMR 7093, Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche, Marine Microbial Ecology, Station Zoologique, B.P. 28, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. Electronic address:
P.O.Box 132, North Attleboro, MA 02761-0132, USA.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 7700 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA.


Tintinnid species are traditionally distinguished via lorica features. Recently, sequencing has revealed polymorphism, i.e., genetically identical individuals with distinct lorica morphologies. One such polymorphic species is Cyttarocylis ampulla; individuals can display lorica morphologies of formally different species of Cyttarocylis and Petalotricha, well-represented in the literature. We compiled and analysed a global database of species records to determine if there is a main form and if different morphotypes have distinct temporal or spatial distributions. The two genera show very similar widespread distributions but with some statistical evidence of spatial segregation. Examining co-occurrence among the common 'species' we found most were rarely found alone, only 6-14% of the records for all species except for 2 forms: C. eucecryphalus and P. ampulla reported alone in 34% and 43%, respectively, of their records. We identify them as the main forms and analysed data of global distributions, spatial distribution across the Mediterranean in summer and winter and temporal distributions from a site in the Adriatic. The two main forms show frequent co-occurrence, similar lack of strong seasonality and widespread geographic distributions. We tentatively conclude that the different lorica morphologies may only reflect conditions of high temporally variability such as quantities and composition of prey. Directions for further research are suggested.


Choreotrichida; ITS; SSU rDNA; Tintinnina.; microzooplankton; polymorphism

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