The life cycle of the centrohelid heliozoan Raphidiophrys heterophryoidea Zlatogursky, 2012 was studied with light and electron microscopy in clonal cultures from the type locality. The alternation of two types of trophozoites, having contrastingly different morphology, was observed. Type 1 trophozoites morphology matched the original description. Type 2 trophozoites tended to form colonies usually of 6–8 individuals, connected with cytoplasmic bridges and their cell size was noticeably bigger, namely 43−45 μm compared to 24.5 μm on average in type 1 trophozoites. Some colonies were forming stalks composed of three or four axopodia covered with scales. Spicules were lacking completely, while plate-scales differed from those of type 1 trophozoites: they had oblong-elliptical shape, larger (5.9–14.1 × 2.4–5.8 μm) size, non-branching septa always reaching scale centre, solid upper plate. The conspecificity of the two trophozoite types was confirmed with the comparison of SSU rDNA gene sequence data. Both types of trophozoites were capable of encystment and excysted individuals always were type 1 trophozoites. A new type of cyst-scales (cup-scales) was described. Transitions between cysts and the two trophozoites types were documented. The diagnosis of R. heterophryoidea was improved accordingly. The possible functions, driving forces, and taxonomic consequences of the polymorphism were discussed.
|Journal||European Journal of Protistology|
|Early online date||Apr 2020|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - Apr 2020|