Toxigenic algae and associated phycotoxins in two coastal embayments in the Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean)

Bernd.Krock [ at ]


Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) surveillance is complicated by high diversity of species and associated phycotoxins. Such species-level information on taxonomic affiliations and on cell abundance and toxin content is, however, crucial for effective monitoring, especially of aquaculture and fisheries areas. The aim addressed in this study was to determine putative HAB taxa and related phycotoxins in plankton from aquaculture sites in the Ebro Delta, NW Mediterranean. The comparative geographical distribution of potentially harmful plankton taxa was established by weekly field sampling throughout the water column during late spring–early summer over two years at key stations in Alfacs and Fangar embayments within the Ebro Delta. Core results included not only confirmed identification of HAB taxa that are common for the time period and geographical area, but also provided evidence of potentially new taxa. At least 25 HAB taxa were identified to species level, and an additional six genera were confirmed, by morphological criteria under light microscopy and/or by molecular genetics approaches involving qPCR and next generation DNA pyrosequencing. In particular, new insights were gained by the inclusion of molecular techniques, which focused attention on the HAB genera Alexandrium, Karlodinium, and Pseudo-nitzschia. Noteworthy is the discovery of Azadinium sp., a potentially new HAB species for this area, and Gymnodinium catenatum or Gymnodinium impudicum by means of light microscopy. In addition, significant amounts of the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA) were found for the first time in phytoplankton samples in the Ebro Delta. While the presence of the known DA-producing diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia was confirmed in corresponding samples, the maximal toxin concentration did not coincide with highest cell abundances of the genus and the responsible species could not be identified. Combined findings of microscopic and molecular detection approaches underline the need for a synoptic strategy for HAB monitoring, which integrates the respective advantages and compensates for limitations of individual methods.

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DOI 10.1016/j.hal.2016.02.012

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Busch, J. A. , Andrée, K. , Diogène, J. , Fernández-Tejedor, M. , Töbe, K. , John, U. , Krock, B. , Tillmann, U. and Cembella, A. (2016): Toxigenic algae and associated phycotoxins in two coastal embayments in the Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean) , Harmful Algae, 55 , pp. 191-201 . doi: 10.1016/j.hal.2016.02.012

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