Pleomorphism in the Antarctic flagellate Pyramimonas gelidicola (Prasinophyceae, Chlorophyta)
AbstractSpecies of the genus Pyramimonas (Prasinophyceae) are a common, widespread, but minor component of the Antarctic marine phytoplankton. They are often associated with the seasonal sea-ice environment. Pyramimonas gelidicola (McFadden, Moestrup & Wetherbee, 1982) was isolated from the water column of a saline Antarctic lake, and observations on the organism’s life history as it grew in unialgal cultures were made. The alga proved to be pleomorphic: capable of producing several morphologically distinct life stages. We recorded motile single-celled quadriflagellates that formed two statistically distinct size classes, a rare uniflagellate cell-type, and aggregations of quadriflagellate cells, multilobed forms and an encystment stage. Multilobed forms and cell aggregations, never before observed in an Antarctic Pyramimonas species, are presumed to be growth medium-induced morphotypes. Multilobed forms contained an equal number of nuclei and lobes, suggesting that they are the product of asexual reproduction. Some of the morphotypes we report here may never be observed under natural field conditions, but the potential for this alga to alternate between morphotypes is clearly demonstrated.
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