Seasonal plankton succession is in accordance with phycotoxin occurrence in Disko Bay, West Greenland.

Uwe.John [ at ]


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are occurring more frequently in the world’s oceans, probably as a consequence of climate change. HABs have not been considered a serious concern in the Arctic, even though the Arctic warms faster than any other region. While phycotoxins and toxin-producing phytoplankton have been found in Arctic waters on several occasions, there is a lack of information on seasonal succession of species and whether the occurrence of harmful species correlates with the presence of their respective phycotoxins. Hence, there is no baseline to assess future changes of HABs in this area. Here, we investigated two periods, from winter to spring and from the spring bloom until summer, in Disko Bay, West Greenland and followed the succession of toxins and their producers using metabarcoding, as well as analyses of particulate and dissolved toxins. We observed a typical seasonal succession with a spring bloom dominated by diatoms, followed by dinoflagellates in summer, with the two most important potentially toxic taxa found being Pseudo-nitzschia spp. and Alexandrium ostenfeldii. The Pseudo-nitzschia spp. peak correlated with a clear increase in particulate domoic acid, reaching 0.05 pg/L. Presence of Alexandrium ostenfeldii could be linked to an increase in spirolides, up to 56.4 pg/L in the particulate phase. Generally, the majority of detected dissolved toxins followed the succession pattern of the particulate toxins with a delay in time. Our results further show that Arctic waters are a suitable habitat for various toxin producers and that the strong seasonality of this environment is reflected by changing abundances of different toxins that pose a potential threat to the ecosystem and its beneficiaries.

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Bruhn, C. S. , Wohlrab, S. , Krock, B. , Lundholm, N. and John, U. (2021): Seasonal plankton succession is in accordance with phycotoxin occurrence in Disko Bay, West Greenland. , Harmful Algae, 103 .

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