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Friday April 19, 2024, 10am GMT+2


Dajun Qiu1*, Jingfu Chen1, Yu Zhong1, Lei Wang1

The diets of the bloom-forming dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans in situ

1. CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Marine Bio-resources and Ecology, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510301, China


Red Noctiluca scintillans is a common heterotrophic dinoflagellate that forms blooms in temperate, subtropical, and tropical coastal ecosystems. The diet of this species plays an important role in its cell growth, development, and reproduction. Because limited gene diversity data are available regarding prey of this species, its diet in Daya Bay during a boreal winter bloom is reported using an integrated approach involving light microscopy, single cell isolation and plastid 16S rDNA cloning, and 18S rDNA V4 and V9 region amplification using isolated cells and environmental DNA as templates with high-throughput sequencing. While conventional light microscopy reveals the diet of this species to comprise Coscinodiscus sp. and Stephanopyxis turris (diatoms), copepod eggs, and detritus, plastid gene diversity identifies a diet comprising diatoms, cyanobacteria, and bacteria, and 18S rDNA high-throughput sequencing reveals a diet comprising 36 eukaryote families (primarily copepods, as well as diatoms, dinoflagellates, Ochrophyta, Haptophytes, Chordata, Cercozoans, Chlorophyta, Polychaeta, and ciliates). Dietary staples include copepods, diatoms, dinoflagellates, Ochrophyta, and Synechococcus. High copepod abundance in prey may reflect their relatively high abundance in environmental seawater. Thus, N. scintillans is generally omnivorous but prefers dominant phytoplankton taxa, including Rhizosoleniaceae, Leptocylindraceae, and Cymatosiraceae (diatoms), as well as Gonyaulacaceae (dinoflagellates). An integrated multi-disciplinary approach provides a more comprehensive picture of N. scintillans diet in Daya Bay, and an improved understanding of this species’ ecological niche and trophic role in marine ecosystems.