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  1. Appendicularians are abundant planktonic filter feeders that play a significant role in the pelagic food web due to their high clearance rates. Their diet and feeding rates have typically been measured as bulk chlorophyll or cell removal, with some attention given to prey size but no differentiation between the microbial phylotypes. Using a combination of in situ and laboratory incubations with flow cytometry and next-generation sequencing, we found species-specific differences in clearance rates and diet compositions of 4 common species: Oikopleura albicans , O. fusiformis , O. longicauda , and O. dioica . While O. albicans most efficiently removed nano-eukaryotic algae, the other smaller species preferentially removed micron-sized pico-eukaryotic algae. Pico- and nano-eukaryotic cells constituted the major food source of the studied appendicularians despite their occurrence in oligotrophic water dominated by prokaryotic cells. Across species, pico- and nano-planktonic microalgae biomass comprised 45 to 75% of the appendicularian diets. Although non-photosynthetic bacteria were removed at lower rates than all other prey groups, their total contribution to the appendicularian diet was not trivial, representing 5 to 19% of the planktonic carbon in the appendicularian diet; pico-cyanobacteria contributed an additional 9 to 18%. Removal rates and efficiencies of pico-eukaryotes were higher than those of prokaryotes of similar size. Strikingly different clearance rates were observed for different prokaryotic phylotypes, indicating that factors other than size are involved in determining the capturability of the cells. Collectively, our findings provide additional evidence for differential retention of microbial prey among mucous-mesh grazers and its substantial effect on the upper-ocean microbial community. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    Suspension feeders, including ascidians (Phylum Chordata, Class Ascidiacea), experience a dilute prey field composed of extremely small particles. The filtration apparatus of ascidians is based on a mucous-mesh that is continuously secreted and ingested. The rate and metabolic cost of this mesh secretion has not been quantified to date. We used video boroscopy to quantify the mucous-mesh production rate of the solitary ascidian Herdmania momus under different food and temperature treatments. H. momus individuals with an average (±95% CI) biomass of 30.7 ± 1.1 mg and a branchial sac area of 10.3 ± 1.2 cm 2 produced an average of 276 ± 33.5 cm 2 of mucous-mesh h -1 , corresponding to a median turnover rate of 625 ± 82 mesh d -1 . Since the mean mesh mass was 2.44 ± 0.58 mg, this production rate corresponds to roughly 50 ± 8 times the individual’s biomass per day. Food concentration had no detectable effect on mesh production rate, whereas a temperature difference of ~9°C (20 vs. 29°C) moderately increased mesh production by 30-50%. The current study reveals that the feeding process of H. momus involves a high expenditure on mucous-mesh synthesis that, combined with low food availability, may limit its growth in oligotrophic waters and under changing climate regimes. 
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