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Growth dynamics in relation to the production of the main cellular components in the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata

May 26, 2014

In the last decade Ostreopsis cf. ovata blooms have been among the most intense along the entire Mediterranean coast, leading to ecological and human health problems, that are associated with the toxins (palytoxin-like compounds) produced by these algal cells. These compounds are secondary metabolites, whose rates of synthesis depend on the metabolism of their precursors. In general, growth dynamics and toxicity of dinoflagellates reflect the physiological status of the organism. The aim of the present study was to investigate the cellular production of the main biochemical  compounds likely involved in the growth and toxicity dynamics of O. cf. ovata during exponential to the late stationary phase in batch cultures of an Adriatic strain. Removal of major nutrients from the medium was monitored along with concentration, biovolume and production of the main cellular components (e.g. polysaccharides, proteins, lipids and toxins). Nutrient uptake, as well as toxin production rates were calculated in the different growth periods. Nutrients (N and P) were completely depleted when cells entered stationary phase and the greatest net toxin production rate (RTOX) occurred during the first days of growth. The various palytoxins reported a relative abundance quite stable during the different growth phases, while the total toxin cellular amount increased along the growth curve. Total and extracellular released polysaccharides, as well as the lipid content increased greatly during the stationary phase, while proteins were mainly produced by cells during the exponential phase. The continuous release of polysaccharides could facilitate cell aggregation and the formation of the benthic community during algal blooms. The trend of production of the main cellular compounds in O. cf. ovata and the growth dynamics of this species lead us to hypothesize that the fast growth of this dinoflagellate, associated with the rapid use of environmental resources (nutrients, and phosphates in particular), may be an ecological/adaptive strategy which could favor this organism in competition with other species.

Pezzolesi L, Pistocchi R, Fratangeli F, Dell’Aversano C, Dello Iacovo E, Tartaglione L, 2014: Growth dynamics in relation to the production of the main cellular components in the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata, Harmful Algae, 36, 1-10, doi:10.1016/j.hal.2014.03.006. Article (subscription required).

 

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