Episode Summary

Despite being photosynthetic, some kinds of algae engage in predatory behavior, hunting and consuming live bacteria!

Thanks to Nicholas Bock for his contribution!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Paramecium bursaria Chlorella virus 1

Jesse's takeaways

Although most of them are microscopic, algae perform a significant portion of the photosynthesis on the planet, because there are so many of them. But even though photosynthesis seems like a reliable way of acquiring energy, there are conditions under which even algae benefit from gathering energy and nutrients from other organisms. This is called phagomixotrophy, when algae hunt and consume bacteria.
In this study, scientists developed fluorescence methods for detecting and studying this predation in a group of algal phytoplankton that's not well-studied, prasinophytes. They found that all five species they looked at engaged in bacterivory under nutrient-depleted conditions, and that they preferred live bacteria to killed ones.

News Item

Journal Paper

Bock NA, Charvet S, Burns J, Gyaltshen Y, Rozenberg A, Duhamel S, Kim E. 2021. Experimental identification and in silico prediction of bacterivory in green algae. ISME J.

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Porous interior of bone