Experimental identification and in silico prediction of bacterivory in green algae

Nicholas A. Bock, Sophie Charvet, John Burns, Yangtsho Gyaltshen, Andrey Rozenberg, Solange Duhamel, Eunsoo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


While algal phago-mixotrophs play a major role in aquatic microbial food webs, their diversity remains poorly understood. Recent studies have indicated several species of prasinophytes, early diverging green algae, to be able to consume bacteria for nutrition. To further explore the occurrence of phago-mixotrophy in green algae, we conducted feeding experiments with live fluorescently labeled bacteria stained with CellTracker Green CMFDA, heat-killed bacteria stained with 5-(4,6-dichlorotriazin-2-yl) aminofluorescein (DTAF), and magnetic beads. Feeding was detected via microscopy and/or flow cytometry in five strains of prasinophytes when provided with live bacteria: Pterosperma cristatum NIES626, Pyramimonas parkeae CCMP726, Pyramimonas parkeae NIES254, Nephroselmis pyriformis RCC618, and Dolichomastix tenuilepis CCMP3274. No feeding was detected when heat-killed bacteria or magnetic beads were provided, suggesting a strong preference for live prey in the strains tested. In parallel to experimental assays, green algal bacterivory was investigated using a gene-based prediction model. The predictions agreed with the experimental results and suggested bacterivory potential in additional green algae. Our observations underline the likelihood of widespread occurrence of phago-mixotrophy among green algae, while additionally highlighting potential biases introduced when using prey proxy to evaluate bacterial ingestion by algal cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1987-2000
Number of pages14
JournalISME Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

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