Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2008-01


Can cryptophyte abundance trigger toxic Karlodinium veneficum blooms in eutrophic estuaries?




Adolf, JE; Bachvaroff, T; Place, AR


Harmful Algae 8(1):119-128




Karlodinium veneficum is a common member of the phytoplankton in coastal ecosystems, usually present 1 at relatively low cell abundance (102 to 103 mL-1), but capable of forming blooms of 104 to 105 cells mL-1 under appropriate conditions. We present evidence consistent with the hypothesis that prey abundance, particularly the abundance of nano-planktonic cryptophytes, is a key factor driving the formation of toxic K. veneficum. blooms in eutrophic environments. K. veneficum is known to increase growth rate 2- to 3-fold in culture through mixotrophic nutrition, but the role of feeding in bloom formation has not been directly examined. We find that toxic X veneficum blooms are correlated with cryptophytes abundance changes. We find a wide range of mixotrophic feeding capabilities (0-4 prey per predator per day) among genetically distinct strains of K. veneficum when fed a common prey. Finally, we find that toxic K veneficum is capable of feeding on a wide range of cryptophyte species varying in size (31-421 mu m(3) per cell) and phylogenetic affinity, although ingestion rates of different prey vary significantly. While abiotic conditions (e.g. nutrients and advection) are an important aspect of K. veneficum bloom formation in eutrophic environments, our results reinforce the need for a broader view of conditions leading to toxic K. veneficum blooms including biotic factors such as prey availability.

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