Hatena arenicola gen. et sp. nov., a katablepharid undergoing probable plastid acquisition.

Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1, Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan.
Protist (Impact Factor: 3.56). 11/2006; 157(4):401-19. DOI: 10.1016/j.protis.2006.05.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Hatena arenicola gen. et sp. nov., an enigmatic flagellate of the katablepharids, is described. It shows ultrastructural affinities to the katablepharids, including large and small ejectisomes, cell covering, and a feeding apparatus. Although molecular phylogenies of the 18S ribosomal DNA support its classification into the katablepharids, the cell is characterized by a dorsiventrally compressed cell shape and a crawling motion, both of which are unusual within this group. The most distinctive feature of Hatena arenicola is that it harbors a Nephroselmis symbiont. This symbiosis is distinct from previously reported cases of ongoing symbiosis in that the symbiont plastid is selectively enlarged, while other structures such as the mitochondria, Golgi body, cytoskeleton, and endomembrane system are degraded; the host and symbiont have developed a morphological association, i.e., the eyespot of the symbiont is always at the cell apex of Hatena arenicola; and only one daughter cell inherits the symbiont during cell division, resulting in a symbiont-bearing green cell and a symbiont-lacking colorless cell. Interestingly, the colorless cells have a feeding apparatus that corresponds to the location of the eyespot in symbiont-bearing cells, and they are able to feed on prey cells. This indicates that the morphology of the host depends on the presence or absence of the symbiont. These observations suggest that Hatena arenicola has a unique "half-plant, half-predator" life cycle; one cell divides into an autotrophic cell possessing a symbiotic Nephroselmis species, and a symbiont-lacking colorless cell, which later develops a feeding apparatus de novo. The evolutionary implications of Hatena arenicola as an intermediate step in plastid acquisition are discussed in the context of other examples of ongoing endosymbioses in dinoflagellates.

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