Characterization of multiple isolates from an Alexandrium ostenfeldii bloom in The Netherlands

Dedmer B. Van de Waal, Urban Tillmann, Helge Martens, Bernd Krock, Yvonne van Scheppingen, Uwe John

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Alexandrium ostenfeldii is an emerging harmful algal bloom species forming a global threat to coastal marine ecosystems, with consequences for fisheries and shellfish production. The Oosterschelde estuary is a shallow, macrotidal and mesotrophic estuary in the southwest of The Netherlands with large stocks of mussels, oysters, and cockles. These shellfish stocks were threatened by a recent A. ostenfeldii bloom in the Ouwerkerkse Kreek, which is a brackish water creek discharging water into the Oosterschelde. Little is yet known about the characteristics of the A. ostenfeldii population in this creek. We therefore isolated 20 clones during an A. ostenfeldii bloom in 2013, and characterized these clones on their growth and toxin profile in their exponential growth phase. The cyclic imines were identified by comparison of A. ostenfeldii extracts with the retention time and CID spectra of standard solutions, or with published CID spectra. We furthermore assessed the allelochemical potency and phylogeny of a selection of 10–12 clones. Morphology and molecular phylogeny showed that all clones belong to Group 1 of A. ostenfeldii. All clones showed comparable growth rates of on average 0.22 ± 0.03 d−1. During exponential growth, they all produced a unique combination of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins, spirolides and gymnodimines, of which particularly the latter showed a high intra-specific variability, with a 25-fold difference between clones with the lowest and highest cell quota. Furthermore, the selected 12 clones showed high allelopathic potencies with EC50 values based on lysis assays against the cryptophyte Rhodomonas salina between 212 and 525 A. ostenfeldii cells mL−1. Lytic activities were lower for cell extracts, indicating an important extracellular role of these compounds. A high intra-specific variability may add to the success of genotypically diverse A. ostenfeldii blooms, and make populations resilient to changes in environmental and climatic conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-104
Number of pages11
JournalHarmful Algae
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Harmful algal blooms
  • PSP toxins
  • Spirolide
  • Gymnodimine
  • Lytic activity
  • Allelochemical potency
  • international


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