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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 17;12(11):e0187963. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187963. eCollection 2017.

New insights on the species-specific allelopathic interactions between macrophytes and marine HAB dinoflagellates.

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Research Group on Oceanography and Plankton Ecology, Tunisian National Institute of Agronomy (INAT), IRESA-Carthage University. U.R.13ES36 Marine Biology (University of Tunis El Manar), Tunis, Tunisia.
Center for Marine Biodiversity, Exploitation and Conservation (MARBEC): IRD, IFREMER, CNRS, Montpellier University, Montpellier, France.
IFREMER-Phycotoxins Laboratory, Nantes, France.
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Tunis, Tunisia.


Macrophytes are known to release allelochemicals that have the ability to inhibit the proliferation of their competitors. Here, we investigated the effects of the fresh leaves of two magnoliophytes (Zostera noltei and Cymodocea nodosa) and thalli of the macroalgae Ulva rigida on three HAB-forming benthic dinoflagellates (Ostreopsis cf. ovata, Prorocentrum lima, and Coolia monotis). The effects of C. nodosa and U. rigida were also tested against the neurotoxic planktonic dinoflagellate Alexandrium pacificum Litaker sp. nov (former Alexandrium catenella). Co-culture experiments were conducted under controlled laboratory conditions and potential allelopathic effects of the macrophytes on the growth, photosynthesis and toxin production of the targeted dinoflagellates were evaluated. Results showed that U. rigida had the strongest algicidal effect and that the planktonic A. pacificum was the most vulnerable species. Benthic dinoflagellates seemed more tolerant to potential allelochemicals produced by macrophytes. Depending on the dinoflagellate/macrophyte pairs and the weight of leaves/thalli tested, the studied physiological processes were moderately to heavily altered. Our results suggest that the allelopathic activity of the macrophytes could influence the development of HAB species.

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