SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Summary

Kleptoplasty is the retention of plastids obtained from ingested algal prey, which can remain temporarily functional and be used for photosynthesis by the predator. With a new approach based on cell cycle analysis, we have addressed the question of whether the toxic, bloom-forming dinoflagellate Dinophysis norvegica practice kleptoplasty or if they replicate their own plastid DNA. Dividing (G2) and non-dividing (G1) D. norvegica cells from a natural population were physically separated with a flow cytometer based on their DNA content. Average numbers of nuclear and plastid rDNA copies were quantified with real-time PCR both in the G1 and G2 group. Cells from the G1 group contained 5800 ± 340 copies of nuclear rDNA and 1300 ± 200 copies of plastid rDNA; cells from the G2 group contained 9700 ± 58 copies of nuclear rDNA and 1400 ± 220 copies of plastid rDNA (mean ± SD, n = 3). The ratio G2/G1 in average rDNA copies per cell was 1.67 for nuclear DNA and 1.07 for plastid DNA. These ratios show that plastid acquisition in D. norvegica is either uncoupled with the cell cycle, or plastids accumulate rapidly in the beginning of the cell cycle owing to feeding, as would be expected in a protist with kleptoplastic behaviour but not in a protist with own plastid replication. In addition, flow cytometry measurements on cells from the same population used for real-time PCR showed that when kept without plastidic prey, live Dinophysis cells lost on average 36% of their plastid phycoerythrin fluorescence in 24 h. Together these findings strongly suggest that D. norvegica does not possess the ability for plastid replication.