What is it about?

Protists belonging to the Labyrinthulea (stramenopiles) have been newly discovered to prey on diatoms, an important primary producer in the ocean. Comprehensive analysis of environmental DNA suggests that it has a large impact on marine ecosystems. The discovery of a new pathway by Labyrinthulean protists is expected to lead to a clarification of the mystery of DHA accumulation in marine animals.

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Why is it important?

DHA (omega-3 unsaturated fatty acid), which is abundantly accumulated in fish, is not biosynthesized by the fish itself, but is acquired by the fish preying on food in the food chain. However, there are many unclear points about which microorganisms biosynthesize DHA and serve as the main source of DHA. Protists belonging to Labyrintulea have a DHA synthesis pathway, are ubiquitous in the ocean, and are one of the candidate sources of DHA. The discovery that Labyrintulea mates prey on diatoms, important primary producers in the ocean, has made them even more important as suppliers of DHA.


I expect that this discovery will lead to the recognition of a new pathway of material circulation of microorganisms that supports marine ecosystems. It is important to investigate the global biomass analysis of this organism and the energy flows associated with this organism.

Dr. Daiske Honda
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Konan University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Nutritional intake of Aplanochytrium (Labyrinthulea, Stramenopiles) from living diatoms revealed by culture experiments suggesting the new prey–predator interactions in the grazing food web of the marine ecosystem, PLoS ONE, January 2019, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208941.
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