Microbial contamination is the main cause of loss of biomass yield in microalgal cultures, especially under outdoor environmental conditions. Little is known about the identities of microbial contaminants in outdoor mass algal cultures. In this study, a new genus and species of vampyrellid amoeba, Vernalophrys algivore, is described from cultures of Scenedesmus dimorphus in open raceway ponds and outdoor flat-panel photobioreactors. This vampyrellid amoeba was a significant grazer of Scenedesmus andwas frequently associated with a very rapid decline in algal numbers. We report on the morphology, subcellular structure, feeding behavior, molecular phylogeny, and life cycle. The new amoeba resembles Leptophrys in the shape of trophozoites and pseudopodia and in the mechanism of feeding (mainly by engulfment). It possesses two distinctive regions in helix E10_1 (nucleotides 117 to 119, CAA) and E23_1 (nucleotides 522 and 523, AG) of the 18S rRNA gene. It did not form a monophyletic group with Leptophrys in molecular phylogenetic trees. We establish a new genus, Vernalophrys, with the type species Vernalophrys algivore. The occurrence, impact of the amoeba on mass culture of S. dimorphus, and means to reduce vampyrellid amoeba contamination in Scenedesmus cultures are addressed. The information obtained from this study will be useful for developing an early warning system and control measures for preventing or treating this contaminant in microalgal mass cultures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology