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Discovery of a resting stage in the harmful, brown‐tide‐causing pelagophyte, Aureoumbra lagunensis: a mechanism potentially facilitating recurrent blooms and geographic expansion

Kang, Yoonja, Tang, Ying‐Zhong, Taylor, Gordon T., Gobler, Christopher J.
Journal of phycology 2017 v.53 no.1 pp. 118-130
RNA, cell respiration, ecosystems, energy, photosynthesis, pigments, plastids, sterols, temperature, vacuoles, vegetative cells, vegetative growth
To date, the life stages of pelagophytes have been poorly described. This study describes the ability of Aureoumbra lagunensis to enter a resting stage in response to environmental stressors including high temperature, nutrient depletion, and darkness as well as their ability to revert from resting cells back to vegetative cells after exposure to optimal light, temperature, and nutrient conditions. Resting cells became round in shape and larger in size, filled with red accumulation bodies, had smaller and fewer plastids, more vacuolar space, contained lower concentrations of chl a and RNA, displayed reduced photosynthetic efficiency, and lower respiration rates relative to vegetative cells. Analysis of vegetative and resting cells using Raman microspectrometry indicated resting cells were enriched in sterols within red accumulation bodies and were depleted in pigments relative to vegetative cells. Upon reverting to vegetative cells, cells increased their chl a content, photosynthetic efficiency, respiration rate, and growth rate and lost accumulation bodies as they became smaller. The time required for resting cells to resume vegetative growth was proportional to both the duration and temperature of dark storage, possibly due to higher metabolic demands on stored energy (sterols) reserves during longer period of storage and/or storage at higher temperature (20°C vs. 10°C). Resting cells kept in the dark at 10°C for 7 months readily reverted back to vegetative cells when transferred to optimal conditions. Thus, the ability of Aureoumbra to form a resting stage likely enables them to form annual blooms within subtropic ecosystems, resist temperature extremes, and may facilitate geographic expansion via anthropogenic transport.