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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 201:137-146 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps201137

Physiology of the mixotrophic dinoflagellate Fragilidium subglobosum. II. Effects of time scale and prey concentration on photosynthetic performance

Per J. Hansen1,*, Alf Skovgaard1, Ronnie N. Glud1, Diane K. Stoecker2

1Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark
2University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory, PO Box 775, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, USA

ABSTRACT: Photosynthetic performance and cellular chlorophyll a (chl a) content were studied in the mixotrophic dinoflagellate Fragilidium subglobosum during transition from phototrophic to mixotrophic growth and back again. Experiments were conducted at an irradiance of 50 µE m-2 s-1 and, for mixotrophic growth, in the presence of Ceratium tripos or C. lineatum. After 4 to 8 d in mixotrophic culture, cells of F. subglobosum had reduced both their cellular chl a content to 47% and the photosynthetic performance to ~42% of that found in phototrophic cultures. Net production of chl a in phototrophic and mixotrophic F. subglobosum cells was the same, indicating that feeding in F. subglobosum does not repress chl a production in mixotrophic cells. Thus, the reduction in cellular chl a content observed in mixotrophic F. subglobosum cells was caused by an increase in growth rate due to feeding. In cultures close to steady state, the photosynthetic performance at low prey concentrations was similar to values obtained by monocultures of F. subglobosum. However, above a certain prey concentration, photosynthetic performance decreased exponentially with an increase in prey concentration. The application of the traditional 14C labeled HCO3- technique to measure photosynthesis in mixotrophically grown cells underestimated rates by 5 to 12%, probably due to fixation of CO2 produced from respiration of ingested carbon. In phototrophic and mixotrophic F. subglobosum cells 46 and 28% of the assimilated carbon is used for respiration, respectively. This indicates that F. subglobosum needs more energy to synthesize, maintain and run the photosynthetic apparatus than the heterotrophic apparatus involved in prey capture, digestion and assimilation.

KEY WORDS: Mixotrophy · Primary production · Dinoflagellate · Growth · Chlorophyll a · Fragilidium subglobosum

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