Intraspecific facilitation by allelochemical mediated grazing protection within a toxigenic dinoflagellate population

U. John, U. Tillmann, Jennifer Hülskötter, Tilman J. Alpermann, S. Wohlrab, Dedmer Van de Waal

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Dinoflagellates are a major cause of harmful algal blooms, with consequences for coastal marine ecosystem functioning and services. Alexandrium tamarense is one of the most abundant and widespread toxigenic species in the temperate northern and southern hemisphere, and produces paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins as well as lytic allelochemical substances. These bioactive compounds may support the success of A. tamarense and its ability to form blooms. Here we investigate the impact of grazing on monoclonal and mixed set-ups of highly (Alex2) and moderately (Alex4) allelochemically active A. tamarense strains and on a non-allelochemically active conspecific (Alex5) by the heterotrophic dinoflagellate Polykrikos kofoidii. While Alex4 and particularly Alex5 were strongly grazed by P. kofoidii when offered alone, both strains grew well in the mixed assemblages (Alex4+Alex5 and Alex2+Alex5). Hence, the allelochemical active strains facilitated growth of the non-active strain by protecting the population as a whole against grazing. Based on our results, we argue that facilitation among clonal lineages within a species may partly explain the high genotypic and phenotypic diversity of Alexandrium populations. Populations of Alexandrium may comprise multiple cooperative traits that act in concert with intraspecific facilitation, and hence promote the success of this notorious harmful algal bloom species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20141268
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1798
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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