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Nov 25

The Hidden Sexuality of Alexandrium Minutum: An Example of Overlooked Sex in Dinoflagellates.

The Hidden Sexuality of Alexandrium Minutum: An Example of Overlooked Sex in Dinoflagellates.

PLoS One. 2015;10(11):e0142667

Authors: Figueroa RI, Dapena C, Bravo I, Cuadrado A

Abstract
Dinoflagellates are haploid eukaryotic microalgae in which rapid proliferation causes dense blooms, with harmful health and economic effects to humans. The proliferation mode is mainly asexual, as the sexual cycle is believed to be rare and restricted to stressful environmental conditions. However, sexuality is key to explaining the recurrence of many dinoflagellate blooms because in many species the fate of the planktonic zygotes (planozygotes) is the formation of resistant cysts in the seabed (encystment). Nevertheless, recent research has shown that individually isolated planozygotes in the lab can enter other routes besides encystment, a behavior of which the relevance has not been explored at the population level. In this study, using imaging flow cytometry, cell sorting, and Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH), we followed DNA content and nuclear changes in a population of the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum that was induced to encystment. Our results first show that planozygotes behave like a population with an “encystment-independent” division cycle, which is light-controlled and follows the same Light:Dark (L:D) pattern as the cycle governing the haploid mitosis. Resting cyst formation was the fate of just a small fraction of the planozygotes formed and was restricted to a period of strongly limited nutrient conditions. The diploid-haploid turnover between L:D cycles was consistent with two-step meiosis. However, the diel and morphological division pattern of the planozygote division also suggests mitosis, which would imply that this species is not haplontic, as previously considered, but biphasic, because individuals could undergo mitotic divisions in both the sexual (diploid) and the asexual (haploid) phases. We also report incomplete genome duplication processes. Our work calls for a reconsideration of the dogma of rare sex in dinoflagellates.

PMID: 26599692 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]