Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 519–532 | Cite as

Variations in morphology, growth, and toxicity among strains of the Prorocentrum lima species complex isolated from Cuba and Brazil

  • Angel R. Moreira-González
  • Luciano F. Fernandes
  • Hajime Uchida
  • Aya Uesugi
  • Toshiyuki Suzuki
  • Nicolas Chomérat
  • Gwenaël Bilien
  • Luiz L. MafraJrEmail author


Benthic dinoflagellates belonging to the genus Prorocentrum are known to produce diarrhetic toxins such as okadaic acid (OA) and its analogues, dinophysistoxins (DTXs), as well as prorocentrolides and other unidentified fast-acting toxins. The present study is a comparative analysis focused on the morphology, genetic, growth, toxin production, and toxicity by strains belonging to the Prorocentrum lima species complex, isolated from different regions along the western Atlantic coast. While cell dimensions (38–45 × 24–30 μm) and shape (ovoid) were similar between strains from Cuba and Recife (Northeast Brazil), cells of the strain from the estuarine complex of Paranaguá Bay (South Brazil) were shorter (36–41 × 25–28 μm) and oblong to ovate-oblong (elliptical) in shape. This latter strain exhibited similar LSU rDNA and identical ITS1-5.8S rDNA-ITS2 sequences to those of P. cf. lima “morphotype 5,” which is closely related to Prorocentrum caipirignum by LSU, but separated from it by ITS. This southern Brazilian strain attained the highest growth rate (0.34 ± 0.01 div day−1) and cell densities (11.2 × 105 cell mL−1) in batch culture. Intracellular OA concentrations were higher for the other two strains during the late exponential and stationary phase, but similar for all strains (9.50–10.06 pg cell−1) at the early exponential growth phase; consistently lower levels of DTX-1 were produced by two strains, except the one from Recife. Finally, live cells of the strains from Cuba and Recife were more toxic to A. salina metanauplii, whereas the southern Brazilian strain exhibited higher culture medium toxicity. The contrasts in growth and toxicity potential revealed for these morphologically and genetically distinct Prorocentrum strains might be relevant for the local management of diarrhetic poisoning outbreaks in shellfish harvesting and aquaculture sites, including in estuarine areas.


Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning Harmful algae Laboratory culture Toxin production Toxicity to Artemia salina 


Funding information

This study was supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through the Research Contract “Bentox Project,” IAEA RC# 18827. Authors are grateful to CAPES and CNPq (Brazil) for the Ph.D. scholarship awarded to A.R.M.G. through the co-funded PEC-PG Program, to Fundação Araucária (Brazil) for the grant awarded to L.L.M. Ligia F. G. da Luz (Universidade Federal do Paraná) assisted with graphic design, and Mutue T. Fuji (Instituto de Botânica) kindly invited one of the researchers to be part of the sampling campaign in Recife.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudos do MarUniversidade Federal do ParanáPontal do ParanáBrazil
  2. 2.Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos (CEAC)CienfuegosCuba
  3. 3.Departamento de BotânicaUniversidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  4. 4.National Research Institute of Fisheries ScienceYokohamaJapan
  5. 5.Ifremer, LER BO, Station de Biologie MarineConcarneauFrance

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