Growth strategies of a model picoplankter depend on social milieu and pCO2

Sinead Collins, C. Elisa Schaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Phytoplankton exist in genetically diverse populations, but are often studied as single lineages (single strains), so that interpreting single lineage studies relies critically on understanding how microbial growth differs with social milieu, defined as the presence or absence of conspecifics. The properties of lineages grown alone often fail to predict the growth of these same lineages in the presence of conspecifics, and this discrepancy points towards an opportunity to improve our understanding of the factors that affect lineage growth rates. We demonstrate that different lineages of a marine picoplankter modulate their maximum lineage growth rate in response to the presence of non-self conspecifics, even when resource competition is effectively absent. This explains why growth rates of lineages in isolation do not reliably predict their growth rates in mixed culture, or the lineage composition of assemblages under conditions of rapid growth. The diversity of growth strategies observed here are consistent with lineage-specific energy-allocation that depends on social milieu. Since lineage growth is only one of many traits determining fitness in natural assemblages, we hypothesize that intraspecific variation in growth strategies should be common, with more strategies possible in ameliorated environments that support higher maximum growth rates, such as high CO2 for many marine picoplankton.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20211154
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1955
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • phytoplankton
  • growth rate
  • life history
  • tradeoffs
  • intraspecific diversity
  • CO2
  • Ostreococcus


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