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Pigment compositions are linked to the habitat types in dinoflagellates

Norico Yamada, Ayumi Tanaka, Takeo Horiguchi
Journal of Plant Research 2015, 128 (6): 923-32
Compared to planktonic species, there is little known about the ecology, physiology, and existence of benthic dinoflagellates living in sandy beach or seafloor environments. In a previous study, we discovered 13(2),17(3)-cyclopheophorbide a enol (cPPB-aE) from sand-dwelling benthic dinoflagellates. This enol had never been detected in phytoplankton despite the fact that it is a chlorophyll a catabolite. We speculated from this discovery that habitat selection might be linked to pigment compositions in dinoflagellates. To test the hypothesis of habitat selection linking to pigment compositions, we conducted extensive analysis of pigments with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) for 40 species using 45 strains of dinoflagellates including three habitat types; sand-dwelling benthic forms, tidal pool inhabitants and planktonic species. The 40 dinoflagellates are also able to be distinguished into two types based on their chloroplast origins; red alga-derived secondary chloroplasts and diatom-derived tertiary ones. By plotting the pigments profiles onto three habitats, we noticed that twelve pigments including cPPB-aE were found to occur only in benthic sand-dwelling species of red alga-derived type. The similar tendency was also observed in dinoflagellates with diatom-derived chloroplasts, i.e. additional sixteen pigments including chl c 3 were found only in sand-dwelling forms. This is the first report of the occurrence of chl c 3 in dinoflagellates with diatom-derived chloroplasts. These results clarify that far greater diversity of pigments are produced by the dinoflagellates living in sand regardless of chloroplast types relative to those of planktonic and tidal pool forms. Dinoflagellates seem to produce a part of their pigments in response to their habitats.


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