• Dinophysis caudata;
  • Mesodinium rubrum;
  • kleptoplastid;
  • plastid;
  • single-cell TEM;
  • ultrastructure

“Phototrophic”Dinophysis Ehrenberg species are well known to have chloroplasts of a cryptophyte origin, more specifically of the cryptophyte genus complex Teleaulax/Geminigera. Nonetheless, whether chloroplasts of “phototrophic”Dinophysis are permanent plastids or periodically derived kleptoplastids (stolen chloroplasts) has not been confirmed. Indeed, molecular sequence data and ultrastructural data lead to contradictory interpretations about the status of Dinophysis plastids. Here, we used established cultures of D. caudata strain DC-LOHABE01 and M. rubrum strain MR-MAL01 to address the status of Dinophysis plastids. Our approach was to experimentally generate D. caudata with “green” plastids and then follow the ingestion and fate of “reddish-brown” prey plastids using light microscopy, time-lapse videography, and single-cell TEM. Our results for D. caudata resolve the apparent discrepancy between morphological and molecular data by showing that plastids acquired when feeding on M. rubrum are structurally modified and retained as stellate compound chloroplasts characteristic of Dinophysis species.