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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

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Harmful algal bloom (HAB) species Alexandrium catenella and Dinophysis acuminata are associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) in humans, respectively. While PSP and DSP have been studied extensively, less is known about the effects of these HAB species or their associated toxins on shellfish. This study investigated A. catenella and D. acuminata toxicity in a larval oyster (Crassostrea virginica) bioassay. Larval activity and mortality were examined through 96-h laboratory exposures to live HAB cells (10–1000 cells/mL), cell lysates (1000 cells/mL equivalents), and purified toxins (10,000 cells/mL equivalents). Exposure to 1000 cells/mL live or lysed D. acuminata caused larval mortality (21.9 ± 7.0%, 10.2 ± 4.0%, respectively) while exposure to any tested cell concentration of live A. catenella, but not lysate, caused swimming arrest and/or mortality in >50% of larvae. Exposure to high concentrations of saxitoxin (STX) or okadaic acid (OA), toxins traditionally associated with PSP and DSP, respectively, had no effect on larval activity or mortality. In contrast, pectenotoxin-2 (PTX2) caused rapid larval mortality (49.6 ± 5.8% by 48 h) and completely immobilized larval oysters. The results indicate that the toxic effects of A. catenella and D. acuminata on shellfish are not linked to the primary toxins associated with PSP and DSP in humans, and that PTX2 is acutely toxic to larval oysters.


doi: 10.3390/toxins14050335


saxitoxin; okadaic acid; pectenotoxin; Alexandrium catenella; Dinophysis acuminata; Crassostrea virginica; harmful algae; harmful algal bloom;

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