Axenic microalgal cultures overlook the complexity of the phycosphere marketplace
Ashworth, Matt P.; Morris, J. Jeffrey
Abstract Great efforts are often spent eliminating co-occurring heterotrophic microorganisms from cultures of microalgae. But as our understanding of interactions and interdependence within microbial communities improves, it is becoming clear that many of these microalgae are as dependent on their “contaminants” as animals and land plants are on their microbiomes. We suggest it might be time to look beyond axenic cultures and focus on both the microalgal cells and the heterotrophic cohabitants living within their “phycosphere”. These consortia are likely better epresentations of the natural physiological state of the algae and therefore are our best platform to understand the biology of these ecologically important microorganisms.