In contrast to C balthica, no closely related environmental sequ

In contrast to C. balthica, no closely related environmental sequence for C. minima was found in GenBank, which is typical for several isolated and cultivated protistan taxa with presumably only minor ecological relevance [39, 40]. The general ultrastructure of both species described here is similar to that of other investigated “naked” craspedids [41–43]. However, the singular adaptation of their mitochondria, and, in the case of C. balthica, the acquisition of intracellular bacteria, are very likely strategies gained both species to deal with oxygen depletion. The cells of C. minima have mitochondria

with tubular but developed cristae, while C. balthica has mitochondria of two types: m1

and m2 (see Figure 5). Both types of mitochondria have predominantly cristae with a tubular shape, but the type m2 shows a reduced number of cristae and an electron translucent matrix. Tubular cristae have never been found before in choanoflagellates, even in specially designed experiments to change the shape of mitochondrial cristae with steroids, conducted unsuccessfully on a M. ovata culture [44]. Mitochondria with reduced CUDC-907 cell line number of cristae were recently classified as anaerobically functioning mitochondria of the class 2 [45]. Such mitochondria have a reduced enzyme inventory with regard to oxidative phosphorylation and are able to use other electron acceptors than oxygen (e.g. fumarate new or nitrate). The routine growth of our strains under normoxic circumstances in the laboratory shows that the mitochondria of both species can use oxygen without any difficulty. It is not clear at the moment whether the two types/classes of mitochondria in C. balthica coexist permanently or if some of the mitochondria transformed into aerobically functioning ones (class 1 according to Müller et al. [45])

during the cultivation under oxic condition. Higher numerical reduction of cristae (oxygen consuming components) in C. balthica mitochondria class 2 and the abundance of this taxon in oxygen depleted waters support the possibility to use other electron acceptors in response to decreasing oxygen levels in the environment. Prokaryotic endosymbionts are common in protists, particularly in TH-302 ciliates and dinoflagellates [46, 47], but had never been observed previously for choanoflagellates [41–43]. Anaerobic ciliates often harbour methanogenic archaeans in close connection to their hydrogenosomes, and Eubacteria without connections to the hydrogenosomes [48, 49]. C. balthica clearly does not possess hydrogenosomes and its endobionts are of bacterial nature as recognizable by the second enveloping membrane instead of a cell wall like archaeans (Figure 5D).

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