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The role of C, N and P in dissolved and particulate organic matter as a nutrient source for phytoplankton growth, including toxic species
Granéli, E.; Carlsson, P.; Legrand, C. (1999). The role of C, N and P in dissolved and particulate organic matter as a nutrient source for phytoplankton growth, including toxic species. Aquat. Ecol. 33(1): 17-27
In: Aquatic Ecology. Springer: Dordrecht; London; Boston. ISSN 1386-2588, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Phytoplankton

Authors  Top 
  • Granéli, E.
  • Carlsson, P.
  • Legrand, C.

Abstract
    Phytoplankton have traditionally been regarded as strictly phototrophic, with a well defined position at the base of pelagic food webs. However, recently we have learned that the nutritional demands of a growing number of phytoplankton species can be met, at least partially, or under specific environmental conditions, through heterotrophy. Mixotrophy is the ability of an organism to be both phototrophic and heterotrophic, in the latter case utilizing either organic particles (phagotrophy) or dissolved organic substances (osmotrophy). This finding has direct implications for our view on algal survival strategies, particularly for harmful species, and energy- and nutrient flow in pelagic food webs. Mixotrophic species may out compete strict autotrophs, e.g. in waters poor in inorganic nutrients or under low light. In the traditional view of the 'microbial loop' DOC is thought to be channelled from algal photosynthesis to bacteria and then up the food chain through heterotrophic flagellates, ciliates and mesozooplankton. Are mixotrophic phytoplankton that feed on bacteria also significantly contributing to this transport of photosynthetic carbon up the food chain? How can we estimate the fluxes of carbon and nutrients between different trophic levels in the plankton food web involving phagotrophic algae? These questions largely remain unanswered. In this review we treat evidence for both osmotrophy and phagotrophy in phytoplankton, especially toxic marine species, and some ecological implications of mixotrophy.

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