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Environmental constraints on the photosynthetic rate of the marine flatworm Symsagittifera roscoffensis

NATHAN THOMAS, Christopher Coates, Kam Tang Orcid Logo

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Volume: 558, Start page: 151830

Swansea University Authors: NATHAN THOMAS, Christopher Coates, Kam Tang Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Symsagittifera roscoffensis, an Acoel flatworm that lives within the intertidal zone, was first discovered over a century ago as a “plant animal” due to its symbiotic relationship with the alga Tetraselmis convolutae. Although commonly used as a model organism in biomedical research, there is little...

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Published in: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
ISSN: 0022-0981 1879-1697
Published: Elsevier BV 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa61636
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Abstract: Symsagittifera roscoffensis, an Acoel flatworm that lives within the intertidal zone, was first discovered over a century ago as a “plant animal” due to its symbiotic relationship with the alga Tetraselmis convolutae. Although commonly used as a model organism in biomedical research, there is little information regarding its life history or how environmental factors affect this organism. In this study, we investigated the effects of a range of abiotic factors on S. roscoffensis by measuring its photosynthetic oxygen production rate under different salinities, temperatures, light intensities, photoperiods, and nutrient concentrations over 6 days. Salinity (20, 30 and 40) had little effect on photosynthetic rate, whereas a temperature of 14 °C yielded significantly higher final oxygen production than 0 and 30 °C. The lowest light intensity (21 μmol m−2 s−1), the shortest photoperiod (8 L:16 D) and the intermediate nutrient concentration (f/4) resulted in the highest final oxygen production rates. Our results showed that S. roscoffensis had the ability to tolerate and remain photosynthetically active under a wide range of conditions that it is likely to experience within the intertidal zone. Using our experimental data, we estimated that S. roscoffensis was able to produce 174% body C d−1 via photosynthesis alone, which could explain the total absence of heterotrophic feeding in this organism. The organism appeared to be robust and easy to cultivate, which should open new opportunities for its wider applications.
Keywords: Acoel worm; Intertidal; Oxygen production; Photosymbiosis; Wales
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Start Page: 151830