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The microbial community of Ophrydium versatile colonies: endosymbionts, residents, and tenantsOphrydium versatile is a sessile peritrichous ciliate (Kingdom Protoctista, class Oligohymenophora, order Peritrichida, suborder Sessilina) that forms green, gelatinous colonies. Chlorophyll a and b impart a green color to Ophrydium masses due to 400-500 Chlorella-like endosymbionts in each peritrich. Ophrydium colonies, collected from two bog wetlands (Hawley and Leverett, Massachusetts) were analyzed for their gel inhabitants. Other protists include ciliates, mastigotes, euglenids, chlorophytes, and heliozoa. Routine constituents include from 50-100,000 Nitzschia per ml of gel and at least four other diatom genera (Navicula, Pinnularia, Gyrosigma, Cymbella) that may participate in synthesis of the gel matrix. Among the prokaryotes are filamentous and coccoid cyanobacteria, large rod-shaped bacteria, at least three types of spirochetes and one unidentified Saprospira-like organism. Endosymbiotic methanogenic bacteria, observed using fluorescence microscopy, were present in unidentified hypotrichous ciliates. Animals found inside the gel include rotifers, nematodes, and occasional copepods. The latter were observed in the water reservoir of larger Ophrydium masses. From 30-46% of incident visible radiation could be attenuated by Ophrydium green jelly masses in laboratory observations. Protargol staining was used to visualize the elongate macronuclei and small micronucleus of O. versatile zooids and symbiotic algal nuclei. Electron microscopic analysis of the wall of the Chlorella-like symbiont suggests that although the Ophrydium zooids from British Columbia harbor Chlorella vulgaris, those from Hawley Bog contain Graesiella sp. The growth habit in the photic zone and loose level of individuation of macroscopic Ophrydium masses are interpretable as extant analogs of certain Ediacaran biota: colonial protists in the Vendian fossil record.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Duval, B. (University of Massachusetts Amherst 01003, United States)
Margulis, L.
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Symbiosis
Volume: 18
ISSN: 0334-5114
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Non-NASA Center
NASA Discipline Exobiology