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Sexual resting cyst production by the dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea: a potential mechanism contributing to the ubiquitous distribution of a harmful alga

Tang, Ying Zhong, Gobler, Christopher J., Wood, M.
Journal of phycology 2015 v.51 no.2 pp. 298-309
Dinophyceae, algal blooms, ecology, estuaries, flagellum, geographical distribution, germination, microalgae, monophyly, nucleotide sequences, ribosomal DNA, seabirds, shellfish, time series analysis
The dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea is a well known, cosmopolitan harmful microalga that frequently forms harmful algal blooms (HABs) in marine estuaries from temperate to tropical waters, and has posed a severe threat to fish, shellfish, and sea birds. Therefore, it is important to understand the ecology of this species, particularly the mechanisms regulating its ubiquitous geographic distribution and frequent recurrence of. To date, the mechanisms regulating distribution and recurrence of HABs by this species have been poorly understood. While resting cyst production can play a central role in the geographic expansion and initiation of HABs, studies of the life cycle of this alga, including cyst production, have been lacking. Here, we demonstrate that A. sanguinea produces sexual resting cysts homothallically. We present evidence for cell pairs in sexual mating, biflagellated planozygote formation, and cysts of different morphologies, and we describe time series for germination of cysts to germlings with two longitudinal flagella, along with studies of possible factors affecting cyst production. Phylogenetic analysis of large sub‐unit rDNA sequences revealed a monophyly of this species and thus possibly a recent common ancestor for all global populations. The discovery of resting cyst production by A. sanguinea suggests its frequent recurrence of blooms and global distribution may have been facilitated by the natural and anthropogenic transport of resting cysts.