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Keywords:

  • Direct engulfment;
  • heterotrophy;
  • mixotrophy;
  • pallium;
  • peduncle;
  • phagopod

Three types of feeding mechanisms are known in dinoflagellates: pallium feeding, tube feeding, and direct engulfment. Pallium feeding has only been described for heterotrophic thecate species (Protoperidinium, Diplopsalis group). Tube feeding is commonly found among both naked and thecate species of mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates (e.g. Amphidinium, Dinophysis, Gyrodinium, Peridiniopsis). Direct engulfment is mainly found among naked species (e.g. Gymnodinium, Gyrodinium, Noctiluca): recently, however, some thecate species have been shown to use this feeding mechanism as well. Feeding behavior in dinoflagellates involves several steps prior to actual ingestion, including precapture, capture, and prey manipulation. As feeding mechanisms allow the ingestion of relatively large prey or parts thereof, dinoflagellates are regarded as raptorial feeders. While prey size plays an important role in the ability of dinoflagellates to ingest food, this alone cannot explain observed prey preferences. Some dinoflagellate species can be very selective in their choice of prey, while others show a remarkable versatility.