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Studies on the Genus Mesodinium I: Ultrastructure and Description of Mesodinium chamaeleon n. sp., a Benthic Marine Species with Green or Red Chloroplasts

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Corresponding Author: Øjvind Moestrup, Phycology Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 2D, DK-1353 Copenhagen, Denmark—Telephone number: 45 3532 2290; FAX number: 45 3532 2321; e-mail: moestrup@bio.ku.dk

Abstract

We provide here the description of a new marine species that harbors green or red chloroplasts. In contrast to certain other species of the genus, Mesodinium chamaeleon n. sp. can be maintained in culture for short periods only. It captures and ingests flagellates including cryptomonads. The prey is ingested very rapidly into a food vacuole without the cryptomonad flagella being shed and the trichocysts being discharged. The individual food vacuoles subsequently serve as photosynthetic units, each containing the cryptomonad chloroplast, a nucleus, and some mitochondria. The ingested cells are eventually digested. This type of symbiosis differs from other plastid-bearing Mesodinium spp. in retaining ingested cryptomonad cells almost intact. The food strategy of the new species appears to be intermediate between heterotrophic species, such as Mesodinium pulex and Mesodinium pupula, and species with red cryptomonad endosymbionts, such as Mesodinium rubrum.

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