Kleptoplast distribution, photosynthetic efficiency and sequestration mechanisms in intertidal benthic foraminifera

Foraminifera are ubiquitously distributed in marine habitats, playing a major role in marine sediment carbon sequestration and the nitrogen cycle. They exhibit a wide diversity of feeding and behavioural strategies (heterotrophy, autotrophy and mixotrophy), including species with the ability of sequestering intact functional chloroplasts from their microalgal food source (kleptoplastidy), resulting in a mixotrophic lifestyle. The mechanisms by which kleptoplasts are integrated and kept functional inside foraminiferal cytosol are poorly known. In our study, we investigated relationships between feeding strategies, kleptoplast spatial distribution and photosynthetic functionality in two shallow-water benthic foraminifera (Haynesina germanica and Elphidium williamsoni), both species feeding on benthic diatoms. We used a combination of observations of foraminiferal feeding behaviour, test morphology, cytological TEM-based observations and HPLC pigment analysis, with non-destructive, single-cell level imaging of kleptoplast spatial distribution and PSII quantum efficiency. The two species showed different feeding strategies, with H. germanica removing diatom content at the foraminifer’s apertural region and E. williamsoni on the dorsal site. All E. williamsoni parameters showed that this species has higher autotrophic capacity albeit both feeding on benthic diatoms. This might represent two different stages in the evolutionary process of establishing a permanent symbiotic relationship, or may reflect different trophic strategies.

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Jesus Bruno, Jauffrais Thierry, Trampe Erik C. L., Goessling Johannes W., Lekieffre Charlotte, Meibom Anders, Kühl Michael, Geslin Emmanuelle (2022). Kleptoplast distribution, photosynthetic efficiency and sequestration mechanisms in intertidal benthic foraminifera. Isme Journal. 16 (3). 822-832. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-021-01128-0, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00728/83992/

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