The function of the feeding groove of 'typical excavate' flagellates

Sei Suzuki-Tellier*, Thomas Kiørboe, Alastair G. B. Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Phagotrophic flagellates are the main consumers of bacteria and picophytoplankton. Despite their ecological significance in the 'microbial loop', many of their predation mechanisms remain unclear. 'Typical excavates' bear a ventral groove, where prey is captured for ingestion. The consequences of feeding through a 'semi-rigid' furrow on the prey size range have not been explored. An unidentified moving element called 'the wave' that sweeps along the bottom of the groove toward the site of phagocytosis has been observed in a few species; its function is unclear. We investigated the presence, behavior, and function of the wave in four species from the three excavate clades (Discoba, Metamonada, and Malawimonadida) and found it present in all studied cases, suggesting the potential homology of this feature across all three groups. The wave displayed a species-specific behavior and was crucial for phagocytosis. The morphology of the feeding groove had an upper-prey size limit for successful prey captures, but smaller particles were not constrained. Additionally, the ingestion efficiencies were species dependent. By jointly studying these feeding traits, we speculate on adaptations to differences in food availability to better understand their ecological functions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13016
JournalJournal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Issue number2
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Early eukaryotic evolution
  • Homology
  • Prey capture efficiency
  • Prey size range
  • Surface motility
  • Wave


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