Ciliate Grazing on the Bloom-Forming Microalga Gonyostomum semen.

Bergman I, Lindström ES, Sassenhagen I

Microb. Ecol. 87 (1) 33 [2024-01-18; online 2024-01-18]

The freshwater raphidophyte Gonyostomum semen forms extensive summer blooms in northern European humic lakes. The development of these blooms might be facilitated by a lack of natural top-down control, as few zooplankton species are able to prey on these large algal cells (up to 100 μm) that expel trichocysts upon physical stress. In this study, we describe a small ciliate species (< 17 μm) that preys on G. semen by damaging the cell membrane until cytoplasm and organelles spill out. Sequencing of clonal cultures of the ciliate tentatively identified it as the prostomatid species Urotricha pseudofurcata. Grazing experiments illustrated that feeding by U. cf. pseudofurcata can significantly reduce cell concentrations of the microalga. However, differences in cell size and growth rate between two investigated ciliate strains resulted in noticeably different grazing pressure. Environmental sequencing data from five different lakes supported potential interactions between the two species. Urotricha cf. pseudofurcata might, thus, play an important role in aquatic ecosystems that are regularly dominated by G. semen, reducing the abundance of this bloom-forming microalga and enabling transfer of organic carbon to higher trophic levels.

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PubMed 38236289

DOI 10.1007/s00248-024-02344-9

Crossref 10.1007/s00248-024-02344-9

pmc: PMC10796478
pii: 10.1007/s00248-024-02344-9

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