Pigment characterization for the 2011 bloom in Qinhuangdao implicated “brown tide” events in China

  • Fanzhou Kong (孔凡洲)
  • Rencheng Yu (于仁成)
  • Qingchun Zhang (张清春)
  • Tian Yan (颜天)
  • Mingjiang Zhou (周名江)


A large-scale bloom occurred from May to June in 2011 in sea area near Qinhuangdao of the Bohai Sea, leading to huge damage of the scallop culture industry. Similar blooms have been observed in this region for three years. The causative species of the bloom, which dominated the phytoplankton community with the maximum cell density around 109 cell/L, could not be identified with morphological features due to the small cell size (∼2 m m). A pigment analytical method was then adopted to analyze the pigment profile of the phytoplankton samples collected from the blooming sea area. It was found that pico-sized (<2 m m), nano-sized (2–20 m m), and bulk phytoplankton samples had similar pigment profile, representing the pigment signature of the bloom-causative species. The major pigments detected included 19-butanoyloxyfucoxanthin (But-fuco), fucoxanthin (Fuco), diadinoxanthin (Diad) and chlorophyll a (Chl a), and high content of But-fuco was the most significant characteristics of the phytoplankton samples. Based on the pigment composition and content, the bloom-causative species could be tentatively identified as pelagophyte, “type 8” group of haptophyte, or silicoflagellate. Some unique features of the bloom, such as the extremely high cell density, small-sized and But-fuco containing cells, occurring in early summer, and the feeding-cessation effects on scallops, suggest it be a “brown tide” event similar to those reported in the east coast of the United States of America. The recurrent “brown tide” events and their dramatic impacts on the shellfish mariculture industry in Qinhuangdao need close attention in the coming years.


harmful algal bloom pigment HPLC 19-butanoyloxyfucoxanthin pelagophyte haptophyte 


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Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fanzhou Kong (孔凡洲)
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rencheng Yu (于仁成)
    • 1
  • Qingchun Zhang (张清春)
    • 1
  • Tian Yan (颜天)
    • 1
  • Mingjiang Zhou (周名江)
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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