Phytoplankton are characterized by a great phenotypic plasticity and amazing morphological variability, both playing a primary role in the acclimation to changing environments. However, there is a knowledge gap concerning the role of algal morphological plasticity in stress responses and acclimation to micropollutants. The present study aims examining the palmelloid colony formation of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii upon micropollutants exposure. Cells were exposed to four micropollutants (MPs) with different modes of action (copper, cadmium, PFOS and paraquat) for a duration of 72h. Effects of MPs on palmelloid formation, growth and physiological traits (chlorophyll fluorescence, membrane integrity and oxidative stress) were monitored via flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy. Palmelloid formation was observed upon treatment with the four micropollutants. Number of palmelloid colonies and their size were dependent on MP concentration and exposure duration. Cells reverted to their unicellular lifestyle when colonies were harvested and inoculated in fresh medium indicating that palmelloid formation is a plastic response to micropollutants. No physiological effects of these compounds were observed in cells forming palmelloids and palmelloid colonies accumulated lower Cd concentration than unicellular C. reinhardtii suggesting that colony formation protects the cells form MPs exposure. The results show that colony formation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a stress response strategy activated to face sub-lethal micropollutant concentrations. HIGHLIGHTS ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest. * FCM : flow cytometry MP : micropollutant PFOS : Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid
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