Open Access Repository

Oceanic protists with different forms of acquired phototrophy display contrasting biogeographies and abundance

Leles, SG, Mitra, A, Flynn, KJ, Stoecker, DK, Hansen, PJ, Calbet, A, McManus, GB, Sanders, RW, Caron, DA, Not, F, Hallegraeff, GM ORCID: 0000-0001-8464-7343, Pitta, P, Raven, JA, Johnson, MD, Glibert, PM and Vage, S 2017 , 'Oceanic protists with different forms of acquired phototrophy display contrasting biogeographies and abundance' , Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, vol. 284, no. 1860 , pp. 1-6 , doi:

Full text not available from this repository.


This first comprehensive analysis of the global biogeography of marine protistan plankton with acquired phototrophy shows these mixotrophic organisms to be ubiquitous and abundant; however, their biogeography differs markedly between different functional groups. These mixotrophs, lacking a constitutive capacity for photosynthesis (i.e. non-constitutive mixotrophs, NCMs), acquire their phototrophic potential through either integration of prey-plastids or through endosymbiotic associations with photosynthetic microbes. Analysis of field data reveals that 40–60% of plankton traditionally labelled as (nonphototrophic) microzooplankton are actually NCMs, employing acquired phototrophy in addition to phagotrophy. Specialist NCMs acquire chloroplasts or endosymbionts from specific prey, while generalist NCMs obtain chloroplasts from a variety of prey. These contrasting functional types of NCMs exhibit distinct seasonal and spatial global distribution patterns. Mixotrophs reliant on ‘stolen’ chloroplasts, controlled by prey diversity and abundance, dominate in high-biomass areas. Mixotrophs harbouring intact symbionts are present in all waters and dominate particularly in oligotrophic open ocean systems. The contrasting temporal and spatial patterns of distribution of different mixotroph functional types across the oceanic provinces, as revealed in this study, challenges traditional interpretations of marine food web structures. Mixotrophs with acquired phototrophy (NCMs) warrant greater recognition in marine research.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Leles, SG and Mitra, A and Flynn, KJ and Stoecker, DK and Hansen, PJ and Calbet, A and McManus, GB and Sanders, RW and Caron, DA and Not, F and Hallegraeff, GM and Pitta, P and Raven, JA and Johnson, MD and Glibert, PM and Vage, S
Keywords: mixotrophy, biogeography, acquired phototrophy, Kleptoplasty, photosymbiosis, marine protists
Journal or Publication Title: Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Publisher: Royal Soc London
ISSN: 0962-8452
DOI / ID Number:
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Authors

Related URLs:
Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page