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High abundance of Amphidomataceae (Dinophyceae) during the 2015 spring bloom of the Argentinean Shelf and a new, non-toxigenic ribotype of Azadinium spinosum

Tillmann, Urban, Gottschling, Marc, Krock, Bernd, Smith, Kirsty F., Guinder, Valeria
Harmful algae 2019 v.84 pp. 244-260
Azadinium spinosum, azaspiracid, chemical analysis, coastal water, humans, light microscopy, lipophilicity, marine toxins, microalgae, nucleotide sequences, oceans, plankton, poisonous algae, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, ribotypes, shellfish poisoning, spring, toxigenic strains, Norway
Azaspiracids (AZA) are the most recently discovered group of lipophilic marine biotoxins of microalgal origin, and associated with human incidents of shellfish poisoning. They are produced by a few species of Amphidomataceae, but diversity and occurrence of the small-sized dinophytes remain poorly explored for many regions of the world. In order to analyze the presence and importance of Amphidomataceae in a highly productive area of Argentinean coastal waters (El Rincón area, SW Atlantic), a scientific cruise was performed in 2015 to sample the early spring bloom. In a multi-method approach, light microscopy was combined with real-time PCR molecular detection of Amphidomataceae, with chemical analysis of AZA, and with the establishment and characterization of amphidomatacean strains. Both light microscopy and PCR revealed that Amphidomataceae were widely present in spring plankton communities along the El Rincón area. They were particularly abundant offshore at the shelf front, reaching peak densities of 2.8 × 105 cells L−1, but no AZA were detected in field samples. In total, 31 new strains were determined as Az. dalianense and Az. spinosum, respectively. All Az. dalianense were non-toxigenic and shared the same rRNA sequences. The large majority of the new Az. spinosum strains revealed for the first time the presence of a non-toxigenic ribotype of this species, which is otherwise the most important AZA producer in European waters. One of the new Az. spinosum strains, with a particular slender shape and some other morphological peculiarities, clustered with toxigenic strains of Az. spinosum from Norway and, exceptionally for the species, produced only AZA-2 but not AZA-1. Results indicate a wide diversity within Az. spinosum, both in terms of sequence data and toxin profiles, which also will affect the qualitative and quantitative performance of the specific qPCR assay for this species. Overall, the new data provide a more differentiated perspective of diversity, toxin productivity and occurrence of Amphidomataceae in a poorly explored region of the global ocean.