Certain strains of the toxigenic dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense produce potent allelochemicals with lytic activity against a wide variety of marine microorganisms. Our efforts to characterize these allelochemicals from a lytic strain focused on the less polar components because of their higher lytic activity. Fractionation and partial purification after solid phase extraction (SPE) were achieved via alternative chromatographic methods, namely HPLC separation on C8 and HILIC phases. Through MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry we compared the mass differences in SPE, C8 HPLC, and HILIC fractions between a lytic and non-lytic strain of A. tamarense. Several large species with masses between 7 kDa and 15 kDa were found in the HILIC lytic fraction by MALDI-TOF MS. Tryptic digestion and tryptic digestioncoupled size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) suggested that the lytic compounds are large nonproteinaceous molecules (<23.3 kDa, trypsin). Although there is no direct proof that the large molecules found in the lytic HILIC fraction are responsible for the lytic activity of this fraction, the mass range deduced from SEC strongly supports this hypothesis. Total sugar content analysis showed that the lytic HILIC fraction contained two-fold more sugar than the non-lytic one. Nevertheless, the low percentage of saccharide per dry mass equivalent (0.18 +/- 0.01%) indicates that sugar residues are likely not a major component of the lytic compounds. We concluded that at least one group of lytic allelochemicals produced by A. tamarense comprise a suite of large non-proteinaceous and probably non-polysaccharide compounds between 7 kDa and 15 kDa.
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 2: Coastal Change > WP 2.2: Integrating evolutionary Ecology into Coastal and Shelf Processes