Biogeography of mixotrophic plankton traits in the global oceans
Suzana Gonçalves Leles
Hepple Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences
Suzana Gonçalves Leles from Swansea University will be giving a talk entitled: 'Biogeography of mixotrophic plankton traits in the global oceans. Suzana is a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Kevin Flynn and Dr. Aditee Mitra.
The analysis of species distribution in broader spatial scales is crucial in biogeography and ecology. Geographical patterns of different marine plankton provide evidence that corroborate the principle ‘everything is everywhere: but the environment selects’. Although mixotrophy (the combination of autotrophy and heterotrophy in a single organism) is now recognised as common in plankton, the biogeography of mixotrophic traits is poorly understood. The most praised mixotrophs conform to ‘plants that eats’, but many others are ‘animals that photosynthesize’ through acquired phototrophy. Acquired phototrophy among protists takes place within a gradient from species with lower to species with higher control over the acquired machinery; therefore, differences in their distribution in time and space may be expected. A global analysis of marine protists with different forms of acquired phototrophy revealed that they are ubiquitous in the oceans, with different groups dominating in different regions. This study shows the importance of mixotrophy to address plankton biogeography, providing data to support future modelling studies addressing mixotrophic traits within pelagic marine food-webs.