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Prey preference, environmental tolerances and ichthyotoxicity by the red-tide dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans cultured from Tasmanian waters
The large phagotrophic dinoflagellate Noctiluca has become a prominent red tide organism in southeast Australian waters since the 2000s, raising concerns for beach tourism, grazing impacts as well as ichthyotoxicity for finfish aquaculture. Satisfactory culture growth rates (0.23–0.56 per day) were obtained by feeding with small Thalassiosira diatom and Tetraselmis flagellate diets, while optimal growth rates sustained for up to 8 months (0.69 per day) were achieved by feeding in a plankton wheel with the large chain-forming dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum. Noctiluca was highly tolerant towards salinities from 20 to 35 and growth was stimulated by temperatures increasing from 10 to 23°C, which in combination with the key factor of prey abundance explains the incidence in southeast Australia of predominantly summer and spring but occasionally also winter blooms. Fatty acid biomarkers suggest that Tasmanian field populations indiscriminately feed on available diatom and dinoflagellate mixtures. Noctiluca exhibited very limited ichthyotoxicity, and only at the highest cell concentrations of 2 000 000/L (50% reduction in RTgill W1 cell viability). Only the densest red tide surface slicks contained acutely toxic levels of unionized ammonia of 242 to 510 μg/L while inshore slicks generated oxygen concentrations as low as 0–1.5 ppm. Lipid phycotoxins (eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid) did not appear to contribute to Noctiluca ichthyotoxicity. The fatty acid 20:0 eicosanoic acid may serve as a potential Noctiluca biomarker in marine food webs and sediments.
Publication titleJournal of Plankton Research
Department/SchoolInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
PublisherOxford Univ Press
Place of publicationGreat Clarendon St, Oxford, England, Ox2 6Dp
Rights statement© The Author(s) 2019.