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Novel insight into the role of heterotrophic dinoflagellates in the fate of crude oil in the sea
Almeda, R.; Connelly, T.L.; Buskey, E.J. (2014). Novel insight into the role of heterotrophic dinoflagellates in the fate of crude oil in the sea. NPG Scientific Reports 4(7560): 9 pp. hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep07560
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Almeda, R.
  • Connelly, T.L.
  • Buskey, E.J.

Abstract
    Although planktonic protozoans are likely to interact with dispersed crude oil after a spill, protozoan-mediated processes affecting crude oil pollution in the sea are still not well known. Here, we present the first evidence of ingestion and defecation of physically or chemically dispersed crude oil droplets (1–86 µm in diameter) by heterotrophic dinoflagellates, major components of marine planktonic food webs. At a crude oil concentration commonly found after an oil spill (1 µL L-1), the heterotrophic dinoflagellates Noctiluca scintillans and Gyrodinium spirale grew and ingested ~0.37 µg-oil µg-Cdino-1 d-1, which could represent ~17% to 100% of dispersed oil in surface waters when heterotrophic dinoflagellates are abundant or bloom. Egestion of faecal pellets containing crude oil by heterotrophic dinoflagellates could contribute to the sinking and flux of toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in coastal waters. Our study indicates that crude oil ingestion by heterotrophic dinoflagellates is a noteworthy route by which petroleum enters marine food webs and a previously overlooked biological process influencing the fate of crude oil in the sea after spills.

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