Feeding by the newly described mixotrophic dinoflagellate Paragymnodinium shiwhaense: feeding mechanism, prey species, and effect of prey concentration.
To investigate the feeding by the newly described mixotrophic dinoflagellate Paragymnodinium shiwhaense (GenBank accession number=AM408889), we explored the feeding process and the kinds of prey species that P. shiwhaense is able to feed on using several different types of microscopes, including a transmission electron microscope and high-resolution video-microscopy. In addition, we measured the growth and ingestion rates of P. shiwhaense on its optimal algal prey Amphidinium carterae as a function of prey concentration. We also measured these parameters for edible prey at a single concentration at which the growth and ingestion rates of P. shiwhaense on A. carterae were saturated. Paragymnodinium shiwhaense feed on algal prey using a peduncle after anchoring the prey by a tow filament. Among the algal prey offered, P. shiwhaense ingested small algal species that had equivalent spherical diameters (ESDs) < or =11 microm (e.g. the prymnesiophyte Isochrysis galbana, the cryptophytes Teleaulax sp. and Rhodomonas salina, the raphidophyte Heterosigma akashiwo, and the dinoflagellates Heterocapsa rotundata and A. carterae). However, it did not feed on larger algal species that had ESDs > or =12 microm (e.g. the dinoflagellates Prorocentrum minimum, Heterocapsa triquetra, Scrippsiella trochoidea, Alexandrium tamarense, Prorocentrum micans, Gymnodinium catenatum, Akashiwo sanguinea, and Lingulodinium polyedrum) or the small diatom Skeletonema costatum. The specific growth rates for P. shiwhaense feeding upon A. carterae increased rapidly with increasing mean prey concentration before saturating at concentrations of ca. 350 ng C/ml (5,000 cells/ml). The maximum specific growth rate (i.e. mixotrophic growth) of P. shiwhaense on A. carterae was 1.097/d at 20 degrees C under a 14:10 h light-dark cycle of 20 microE/m(2)/s, while its growth rate (i.e. phototrophic growth) under the same light conditions without added prey was -0.224/d. The maximum ingestion and clearance rates of P. shiwhaense on A. carterae were 0.38 ng C/grazer/d (5.4 cells/grazer/d) and 0.7 microl/grazer/h, respectively. The calculated grazing coefficients for P. shiwhaense on co-occurring Amphidinium spp. was up to 0.07/h (i.e. 6.7% of the population of Amphidinium spp. was removed by P. shiwhaense populations in 1 h). The results of the present study suggest that P. shiwhaense can have a considerable grazing impact on algal populations.