How do you find your food?
(From Science Daily) — Most animal species, whether they rummage through a refrigerator or stalk prey in the wild, obtain nutrients by consuming living organisms. Plants, for the most part, adopt a different feeding, or “trophic,” strategy, making their own food through photosynthesis. There are, however, certain enterprising species that can do both: photosynthesize and consume prey. These organisms, found mostly in certain ocean plankton communities, live a flexible, “mixotrophic” lifestyle.
Now researchers at MIT and Bristol University in the United Kingdom have found that these microscopic, mixotrophic organisms may have a large impact on the ocean’s food web and the global carbon cycle.
The scientists developed a mixotrophic model of the global ocean food web, at the scale of marine plankton, in which they gave each plankton class the ability to both photosynthesize and consume prey. They found that, compared with traditional models that do not take mixotrophs into account, their model produced larger, heavier plankton throughout the ocean. As these more substantial microbes die, the researchers found they increase the flux of sinking organic carbon particles by as much as 35 percent.
Read the full article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160202110710.htm