Harmful algae in the planktonic food web of the Baltic Sea

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Title: Harmful algae in the planktonic food web of the Baltic Sea
Author: Uronen, Pauliina
Publisher: Finnish Environment Institute
Date: 2007
Language: en
Belongs to series: Monographs of the Boreal Environment Research 28
ISBN: 978-952-11-2783-0
ISSN: 1796-1661
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/39338
Abstract: This study deals with algal species occurring commonly in the Baltic Sea: haptophyte Prymnesium parvum, dinoflagellates Dinophysis acuminata, D. norvegica and D. rotundata, and cyanobacterium Nodulariaspumigena. The hypotheses are connected to the toxicity of the species, to the factors determining toxicity, to the consequences of toxicity and to the transfer of toxins in the aquatic food web.Since the Baltic Sea is severely eutrophicated, the fast-growing haptophytes have potential in causing toxic blooms. In our studies, the toxicity (as haemolytic activity) of the haptophyte P. parvum was highest under phosphorus-limited conditions, but the cells were toxic also under nitrogen limitation and under nutrient-balanced growth conditions. The cellular nutrient ratios were tightly related to the toxicity. The stoichiometric flexibility for cellular phosphorus quota was higher than for nitrogen, and nitrogen limitation led to decreased biomass. Negative allelopathic effects on another algae (Rhodomonas salina) could be observed already at low P. parvum cell densities, whereas immediate lysis of R. salina cells occurred at P. parvum cell densities corresponding to natural blooms. Release of dissolved organic carbon from the R. salina cells was measured within 30 minutes, and an increase in bacterial number and biomass was measured within 23 h. Because of the allelopathic effect, formation of a P. parvum bloom may accelerate after a critical cell density is reached and the competing species are eliminated. A P. parvum bloom indirectly stimulates bacterial growth, and alters the functioning of the planktonic food web by increasing the carbon transfer through the microbial loop.Our results were the first reports on DSP toxins in Dinophysis cells in the Gulf of Finland and on PTX-2 in the Baltic Sea. Cellular toxin contents in Dinophysis spp. ranged from 0.2 to 149 pg DTX-1 cell-1 and from 1.6 to 19.9 pg PTX-2 cell-1 in the Gulf of Finland. D. norvegica was found mainly around the thermocline (max. 200 cells L-1), whereas D. acuminata was found in the whole mixed layer (max. 7 280 cells L-1). Toxins in the sediment trap corresponded to 1 % of DTX-1 and 0.01 % PTX-2 of the DSP pool in the suspended matter. This indicates that the majority of the DSP toxins does not enter the benthic community, but is either decomposed in the water column, or transferred to higher trophic levels in the planktonic food chain.We found that nodularin, produced by Nodularia spumigena, was transferred to the copepod Eurytemoraaffinis through three pathways: by grazing on filaments of small Nodularia, directly from the dissolved pool, and through the microbial food web by copepods grazing on ciliates, dinoflagellates and heterotrophic nanoflagellates. The estimated proportion of the microbial food web in nodularin transfer was 22-45 % and 71-76 % in our two experiments, respectively. This highlights the potential role of the microbial food web in the transfer of toxins in the planktonic food web.
Subject: plankton

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