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Copepods induce paralytic shellfish toxin production in marine dinoflagellates

Journal article
Authors Erik Selander
Peter Thor
Gunilla B. Toth
Henrik Pavia
Published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Volume 273
Issue 1594
Pages 1673-1680
ISSN 0962-8452
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Marine Ecology
Pages 1673-1680
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2006.3502
Keywords Alexandrium minutum, Acartia tonsa, induced resistance, paralytic, shellfish poisoning, ALEXANDRIUM-MINUTUM, FEEDING-BEHAVIOR, ACARTIA-TONSA, ASCOPHYLLUM-NODOSUM, CHEMICAL ECOLOGY, COLONY FORMATION, COASTAL, WATERS, FOOD WEBS, ZOOPLANKTON, SCENEDESMUS
Subject categories Ecology

Abstract

Among the thousands of unicellular phytoplankton species described in the sea, some frequently occurring and bloom-forming marine dinoflagellates are known to produce the potent neurotoxins causing paralytic shellfish poisoning. The natural function of these toxins is not clear, although they have been hypothesized to act as a chemical defence towards grazers. Here, we show that waterborne cues from the copepod Acartia tonsa induce paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) production in the harmful algal bloom-forming dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum. Induced A. minutum contained up to 2.5 times more toxins than controls and was more resistant to further copepod grazing. Ingestion of non-toxic alternative prey was not affected by the presence of induced A. minutum. The ability of A. minutum to sense and respond to the presence of grazers by increased PST production and increased resistance to grazing may facilitate the formation of harmful algal blooms in the sea.

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