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Taming the smallest predators of the oceans

AuthorsCampo, Javier del ; Not, Fabrice ; Forn, Irene ; Sieracki, Michael E.; Massana, Ramon
Single cell
Heterotrophic flagellates
Issue DateJul-2012
PublisherInternational Society for Microbial Ecology
CitationISME Journal - International Society for Microbial Ecology 7: 351-358 (2012)
AbstractProtists (unicellular eukaryotes) arguably account for most eukaryotic diversity and are central players of the biosphere. Known protist diversity and biology is largely based on cultured strains. Yet, environmental molecular surveys have unveiled entirely novel lineages that, as their prokaryotic counterparts, are essentially uncultured. Culture bias is an important drawback for any microbe-related science and is particularly severe for heterotrophic protists, which depend on organic food sources for growth. Here, we show how ecologically significant bacterivorous protists have been brought into culture by mimicking in situ conditions. Single cells sorted by serial dilution or flow cytometry were inoculated into seawater amended with natural bacterial assemblage at nearly in situ abundances. Strains belonging to lineages only known so far from environmental sequencing were isolated. Among them, Minorisa minuta gen. nov. sp. nov. forms a novel branch within Rhizaria, holding a key evolutionary position, and with an average size of 1.4 μm represents one of the smallest bacterial grazers known to date. It has a worldwide planktonic distribution and can account for 5% of heterotrophic protists communities in coastal waters. Physiological features of this strain can partly explain its success in the environment. Culturing ecologically relevant but elusive protists provide invaluable material for ecophysiology, genomics, ecosystem modeling and evolutionary issues.
Description8 páginas, 3 figuras, 2 tables.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2012.85
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Artículos
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