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Toxicon. 2011 Mar 1;57(3):421-8. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2010.09.013. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

A review on the effects of environmental conditions on growth and toxin production of Ostreopsis ovata.

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Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Scienze Ambientali, Università di Bologna, Via S'Alberto 163, 48100 Ravenna, Italy.


Since the end of the 1990s the occurrence of blooms of the benthic dinoflagellates Ostreopsis spp. is spreading in many tropical and temperate regions worldwide, sometimes causing benthonic biocenosis suffering and occasional human distress. Ostreopsis ovata has been found to produce palytoxin-like compounds, a class of highly potent toxins. As general, the highest abundances of Ostreopsis spp. are recorded during warmer periods characterized by high temperature, salinity, and water column stability. Moreover, as these cells are easily resuspended in the water column, the role of hydrodynamism in the blooms development and decline has been highlighted. The environmental conditions appear, therefore, to be one of the main factors determining the proliferation of these species as testified by several field surveys. Laboratory studies on the effect of environmental parameters on growth and toxicity of O. ovata are rather scarce. With regard to the effects of temperature, culture results indicate that different strains blooming along Italian coasts displayed different optima, in accordance to blooming periods, and that higher toxin levels correlated with best growth conditions. Additionally, in relation to an Adriatic strain, cell growth positively correlated with the increase in salinity, while toxicity was lowest at the highest salinity value (i.e. 40). For the same strain, both nitrogen and phosphorus limitation determined a decrease in cell toxicity showing different behaviour with respect to many other toxic dinoflagellates.

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