• Dinophysis;
  • kleptoplastids;
  • permanent plastids;
  • plastid preference;
  • restriction fragment length polymorphism

The marine photosynthetic dinoflagellates Dinophysis Ehrenb. species are obligate mixotrophs that require both light and the ciliate prey Myrionecta rubra (= Mesodinium rubrum) for long-term survival. Despite rapid progress on the study of Dinophysis using laboratory cultures, however, whether it has its own permanent plastids or kleptoplastids (i.e., stolen plastids from its ciliate prey) is not fully resolved. Here, we addressed this issue using established cultures of D. caudata Saville-Kent strain DC-LOHABE01 and cross-feeding/starvation experiments encompassing the prey Mrubra strain MR-MAL01 cultures grown on two different cryptophytes (strains CR-MAL01 and CR-MAL11). To follow the fate of prey plastids, psbA gene as a tracer was amplified from individually isolated Dcaudata cells, and the PCR products were digested with a restriction enzyme, SfaNI. The RFLP pattern of the PCR products digested by SfaNI revealed that Dcaudata continued to keep CR-MAL01–type plastids, while it lost CR-MAL11–type plastids with increasing starvation time. Our results suggest that Dinophysis treats in different ways plastids taken up from different cryptophytes via its ciliate prey Mrubra. Alternatively, Dcaudata may already have its own CR-MAL01–type permanent plastid, with two types of plastids (CR-MAL01 and CR-MAL11) obtained from Mrubra being lost within 1 month. This result highlights the need to identify more accurately the origin of plastids in newly isolated photosynthetic Dinophysis species to resolve the issue of plastid permanence.