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Aquat Toxicol. 2002 Oct 2;60(1-2):123-37.

Inhibition of embryonic development and fertilization in broadcast spawning marine invertebrates by water soluble diatom extracts and the diatom toxin 2-trans,4-trans decadienal.

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  • 1Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Ridley Building, Claremount Road, NE1 7RU, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Water soluble diatom extracts and the diatom aldehyde 2-trans,4-trans decadienal were assayed on the gametes and embryos of the broadcast spawning polychaetes Arenicola marina and Nereis virens and the echinoderms Asterias rubens and Psammechinus miliaris. Both crude cellular extracts and purified aldehyde were found to inhibit fertilization, embryogenesis and hatching success in a dose dependent manner. Intact diatom cells had no discernable effect on fertilization or development. Extracts of Skeletonema costatum were generally more effective than Nitzschia commutata in inhibiting development and fertilization. There was considerable interspecific variation in terms of toxin sensitivity. The polychaetes were more sensitive to the effects than the echinoderms. Within the polychaetes A. marina was the more tolerant in terms of developmental competence but N. virens had a higher fertilization rate. Echinoid embryos were more tolerant than asteroid embryos. This is the first study to present data on the inhibition of fertilization success by diatom extracts and aldehydes. Our observations are discussed in relation to temporal patterns in spawning and possible adaptive mechanisms to avoid diatom toxicity.

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