, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 65-91,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 Jul 2010

Growth, feeding and ecological roles of the mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates in marine planktonic food webs

Abstract

Planktonic mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates are ubiquitous protists and often abundant in marine environments. Recently many phototrophic dinoflagellate species have been revealed to be mixotrophic organisms and also it is suggested that most dinoflagellates may be mixotrophic or heterotrophic protists. The mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates are able to feed on diverse prey items including bacteria, picoeukaryotes, nanoflagellates, diatoms, other dinoflagellates, heterotrophic protists, and metazoans due to their diverse feeding mechanisms. In turn they are ingested by many kinds of predators. Thus, the roles of the dinoflagellates in marine planktonic food webs are very diverse. The present paper reviewed the kind of prey which mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates are able to feed on, feeding mechanisms, growth and ingestion rates of dinoflagellates, grazing impact by dinoflagellate predators on natural prey populations, predators on dinoflagellates, and red tides dominated by dinoflagellates. Based on this information, we suggested a new marine planktonic food web focusing on mixotrophic and heterotrophic dinoflagellates and provided an insight on the roles of dinoflagellates in the food web.