Photobiont Flexibility in Paramecium bursaria: Double and Triple Photobiont Co-Habitation


The green ciliate, Paramecium bursaria, has evolved a mutualistic relationship with endosymbiotic green algae (photobionts). Under culture conditions, photobionts are usually unified (to be single species) within each P. bursaria strain. In most cases, the algal partners are restricted to either Chlorella variabilis or Micractinium reisseri (Chlorellaceae, Trebouxiophyceae). Both species are characterized by particular physiology and atypical group I intron insertions, although they are morphologically indistinguishable from each other or from other Chlorella-related species. Both algae are exclusive species that are viable only within P. bursaria cells, and therefore their symbiotic relationship can be considered persistent. In a few cases, the other algal species have been reported as P. bursaria photobionts. Namely, P. bursaria have occasionally replaced their photobiont partner. This paper introduces some P. bursaria strains that maintain more than one species of algae for a long period. This situation prompts speculations about flexibility of host-photo-biont relationships, how P. bursaria replaced these photobionts, and the infection theory of the group I introns.

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Hoshina, R. and Fujiwara, Y. (2012) Photobiont Flexibility in Paramecium bursaria: Double and Triple Photobiont Co-Habitation. Advances in Microbiology, 2, 227-233. doi: 10.4236/aim.2012.23027.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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