The Role of Mixotrophy in Pelagic Environments

  • Bo Riemann
  • Harry Havskum
  • Frede Thingstad
  • Catherine Bernard
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 38)


This paper reviews the occurrence and ecological importance of mixotrophic flagellates and ciliates in pelagic environments, particularly in marine ecosystems. Mixotrophy is here defined as the combination of photoautotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition in a single individual, often used in the restricted sense of combining photosynthesis and phagotrophy. Mixotrophic protists represent an alternative strategy that allows a shortcut between the traditional food web and the microbial loop. A large number of reports have been published on the ecological importance of mixotrophic flagellates in freshwater, yet only a few studies have been carried out in seawater. In contrast, most of the knowledge of mixotrophic ciliates comes from marine environments. Results from field studies have demonstrated that both mixotrophic flagellates and ciliates are commonly found in many marine environments, and mixotrophic flagellates can dominate the biomass of photoautotrophs and be responsible for the entire grazing of bacteria or protists. Results from laboratory experiments on factors controlling the degree of photoautotrophy/phagotrophy in flagellates are presented. Finally, we present a hypothesis for a growth strategy of bacterivorous mixotrophic flagellates.


Heterotrophic Flagellate Food Vacuole Planktonic Ciliate Ceratium Hirundinella Mixotrophic Dinoflagellate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo Riemann
    • 1
  • Harry Havskum
    • 1
  • Frede Thingstad
    • 2
  • Catherine Bernard
    • 3
  1. 1.The International Agency for 14Carbon DeterminationVKIHørsholmDenmark
  2. 2.Dept. of MicrobiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  3. 3.Marine Biological LaboratoryUniversity of CopenhagenHelsingørDenmark

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