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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 666:73-88 (2021)  -  DOI:

High trophic plasticity in the mixotrophic Mastigias papua-Symbiodiniaceae holobiont: implications for the ecology of zooxanthellate jellyfishes

Nicolas Djeghri1,*, Philippe Pondaven1, Fabienne Le Grand1, Antoine Bideau1, Nolwenn Duquesne1, Maria Stockenreiter2, Stephan Behl2, Jessica Y-T Huang2, Thomas Hansen3, Sharon Patris4, Gerda Ucharm4, Herwig Stibor2

1Université de Brest, Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, IUEM/UBO, Laboratoire des sciences de l’Environnement Marin, UMR 6539 LEMAR, Technopôle Brest Iroise, Rue Dumont d’Urville, 29280 Plouzané, France
2Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Department Biologie II, Aquatische Ökologie, Großhaderner Str. 2, 82152 Planegg-Martinsried, Germany
3GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Department of Marine Ecology, Experimental Ecology-Food Webs, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24015 Kiel, Germany
4Coral Reef Research Foundation, PO Box 1765, Koror, PW 96940, Palau
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The trophic ecology of mixotrophic, zooxanthellate jellyfishes potentially spans a wide spectrum between autotrophy and heterotrophy. However, their degree of trophic plasticity along this spectrum is not well known. To better characterize their trophic ecology, we sampled the zooxanthellate medusa Mastigias papua in contrasting environments and sizes in Palau (Micronesia). We characterized their trophic ecology using isotopic (bulk δ13C and δ15N), elemental (C:N ratios), and fatty acid compositions. The different trophic indicators were correlated or anti-correlated as expected (Pearson’s correlation coefficient, rP > 0.5 or < -0.5 in 91.1% of cases, p < 0.05), indicating good agreement. The sampled M. papua were ordered in a trophic spectrum between autotrophy and heterotrophy (supported by decreasing δ13C, C:N, proportion of neutral lipid fatty acids (NLFA:TLFA), n-3:n-6 and increasing δ15N, eicosapentaenoic acid to docosahexaenoic acid ratio (EPA:DHA)). This trophic spectrum was mostly driven by sampling location with little influence of medusa size. Moreover, previous observations have shown that in a given location, the trophic ecology of M. papua can change over time. Thus, the positions on the trophic spectrum of the populations sampled here are not fixed, suggesting high trophic plasticity in M. papua. The heterotrophic end of the trophic spectrum was occupied by non-symbiotic M. papua, whereas the literature indicates that the autotrophic end of the spectrum corresponds to dominant autotrophy, where more than 100% of the carbon requirement is obtained by photosynthesis. Such high trophic plasticity has critical implications for the trophic ecology and blooming ability of zooxanthellate jellyfishes.

KEY WORDS: Mixotrophy · Plasticity · Jellyfish · Zooxanthellae · Photosymbiosis · Trophic markers · Food webs · Marine lakes

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Cite this article as: Djeghri N, Pondaven P, Le Grand F, Bideau A and others (2021) High trophic plasticity in the mixotrophic Mastigias papua-Symbiodiniaceae holobiont: implications for the ecology of zooxanthellate jellyfishes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 666:73-88.

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