Marine Biology

, Volume 139, Issue 4, pp 605–616 | Cite as

Differential effects of Aureococcus anophagefferens isolates ("brown tide") in unialgal and mixed suspensions on bivalve feeding

  •  V. Bricelj
  •  S. MacQuarrie
  •  R. Schaffner

Abstract.

Picoplanktonic brown tides of Aureococcus anophagefferens have had devastating effects on production of commercially exploited bivalve populations in shallow, mid-Atlantic estuaries in the United States. The toxin produced by this alga has not been chemically characterized. This study develops a bioassay using juvenile mussels, Mytilus edulis, based on the inhibitory effect of brown tide on bivalve suspension-feeding, to compare the cellular toxicity of three Long Island, New York, clonal isolates of A. anophagefferens. Two recent (1995) isolates (CCMP 1707 and 1708) from Peconic Bay proved highly toxic and caused greater than 100-fold reduction in clearance rates (CR) of juvenile mussels in unialgal and mixed suspensions with a nutritious alga, Isochrysis galbana (clone T-iso), relative to controls. A third 1986 isolate from Great South Bay (CCMP 1784) showed no detectable toxicity in 24-h trials, and may have lost its initial potency over more than a decade of laboratory culture. Identification of a non-toxic strain provides a useful tool for future research. Cultures of the toxic isolate CCMP 1708 in late-stationary growth phase were significantly more toxic than those in early-exponential phase. The threshold concentration of toxic A. anophagefferens cells that inhibits clearance on co-occurring phytoplankton species was determined for juvenile (10-mm) hard clams, Mercenaria mercenaria. Relatively low concentrations (≤35×103 to 50×103 cells ml–1) of isolate CCMP 1708 were sufficient to sharply reduce clam CR of I. galbana. Calculations based on these results suggest that, at peak historical densities of M. mercenaria in Great South Bay, removal of A. anophagefferens at low cell densities by suspension-feeding benthos could provide an effective top-down grazing control mechanism to prevent the initiation of brown tide in shallow, inner bays.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  •  V. Bricelj
    • 1
  •  S. MacQuarrie
    • 1
  •  R. Schaffner
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Marine Biosciences, National Research Council, 1411 Oxford Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3Z1, Canada
  2. 2.Department of Biology, University of Southern California, 3616 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

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