Domoic acid production by Pseudo-nitzschia australis: Re-evaluating the role of macronutrient limitation on toxigenicity
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Domoic acid production by Pseudo-nitzschia australis: Re-evaluating the role of macronutrient limitation on toxigenicity

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  • Journal Title:
    Harmful Algae
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    The toxigenic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia australis (Frenguelli), isolated from the California Current System (CCS), was examined in unialgal laboratory cultures to evaluate domoic acid (DA) production and cellular growth as a response to macronutrient limitation. Toxic blooms of P. australis are common in the coastal waters of eastern boundary upwelling systems (EBUS), including those of the CCS off the west coast of the United States where limitation by macronutrients, specifically silicon as silicic acid [Si(OH)4], or phosphorus as phosphate [PO43-], has been suggested to increase the production of DA by these diatoms. This study used batch cultures grown under conditions of macronutrient sufficiency and limitation, expected during and after a natural upwelling event, to determine whether PO43- or Si(OH)4 deficiency enhances the production of DA and the expected risk of DA toxicity in natural coastal ecosystems. These controlled lab studies demonstrate that despite increases in cell-specific DA concentrations found during the nutrient-limited stationary phase, DA production rates did not increase due to either PO43- or Si(OH)4 limitation, and total DA production rates were statistically greater during the nutrient-replete, exponential growth phase compared to the nutrient-limited, stationary phase. In addition, the relative contribution of particulate DA (pDA) and dissolved DA (dDA) varied markedly with growth phase, where the contribution of pDA to total DA (pDA + dDA) declined from an average of 70% under P- and Si-replete conditions to 49% under P-limited conditions and 39% under Si-limited conditions. These laboratory results demonstrate that macronutrient sufficiency does not regulate the biosynthetic production of DA by this strain of P. australis. This finding, together with a comparative analysis of the various equations employed to estimate DA production, suggests that the current paradigm of increased toxigenicity due to macronutrient limitation be carefully re-examined, particularly when attempting to forecast the toxic threat of DA to coastal ecosystems as a function of macronutrient availability.
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    Harmful Algae, 125, 102431
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