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The effects of elevated CO2 on the growth and toxicity of field populations and cultures of the saxitoxin-producing dinoflagellate, Alexandrium fundyense
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    Limnology and Oceanography, 60(1), 198-214.
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    The effects of coastal acidification on the growth and toxicity of the saxitoxin-producing dinoflagellate Alexandrium fundyense were examined in culture and ecosystem studies. In culture experiments, Alexandrium strains isolated from Northport Bay, New York, and the Bay of Fundy, Canada, grew significantly faster (16-190%; p < 0.05) when exposed to elevated levels of P-CO2 (similar to 90-190 Pa 900-1900 mu atm) compared to lower levels ( similar to 40 Pa = 400 mu atm). Exposure to higher levels of PCO2 also resulted in significant increases (71-81%) in total cellular toxicity (fg saxitoxin equivalents cell 21) in the Northport Bay strain, while no changes in toxicity were detected in the Bay of Fundy strain. The positive relationship between PCO2 enrichment and elevated growth was reproducible in natural populations from New York waters. Alexandrium densities were significantly and consistently enhanced when natural populations were incubated at 150 Pa P-CO2 compared to similar to 39 Pa. During natural Alexandrium blooms in Northport Bay, P-CO2 concentrations increased over the course of a bloom to more than 170 Pa and were highest in regions with the greatest Alexandrium abundances, suggesting Alexandrium may further exacerbate acidification and/or be especially adapted to these acidified conditions. The co-occurrence of Alexandrium blooms and elevated P-CO2 represents a previously unrecognized, compounding environmental threat to coastal ecosystems. The ability of elevated P-CO2 to enhance the growth and toxicity of Alexandrium indicates that acidification promoted by eutrophication or climate change can intensify these, and perhaps other, harmful algal blooms.
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