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Lethal effects of Northwest Atlantic Ocean isolates of the dinoflagellate, Scrippsiella trochoidea, on Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and Northern quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) larvae

Tang, Ying Zhong, Gobler, Christopher J.
Marine biology 2012 v.159 no.1 pp. 199-210
Algae, Crassostrea virginica, Cyprinodon, Mercenaria mercenaria, culture media, juveniles, larvae, lipids, mortality, polysaccharides, shellfish, toxicity, Atlantic Ocean
The thecate dinoflagellate Scrippsiella trochoidea is a cosmopolitan, bloom-forming alga that has been generally considered non-toxic. Here, we report that environmentally relevant cell densities (104 cells mL−1) of Scrippsiella trochoidea strains isolated from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean caused 100% mortality in Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) larvae during 3-day exposures while parallel control larvae exhibited 100% survival. S. trochoidea also exhibited lethal effects on Northern quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) larvae (70% mortality during 3-day exposure) but were non-toxic to juvenile fish (Cyprinodon variegates). The cultures of S. trochoidea were more lethal to Northern quahog larvae than ten other species of harmful algae, including the highly toxic species Cochlodinium polykrikoides. Scrippsiella trochoidea cultures within later stages of growth were more toxic than exponential growth stages to bivalve larvae, and the toxicity was dose dependent. Furthermore, toxicity was maintained in the cultures that were sonicated, boiled, and frozen as well as in resuspended residues of the culture but was significantly lower in cell-free culture media. Collectively, these results suggest that S. trochoidea causes mortality in bivalve larvae through a physicochemical rather than strictly chemical mechanism, such as clogging of larval feeding apparatuses by materials produced by S. trochoidea (e.g., lipids, extracellular polysaccharides, and/or cell debris) which accumulate as cells in culture or blooms age. This is the first report of the lethal effects of Scrippsiella trochoidea on shellfish larvae.