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Effects of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata on survival, feeding and reproduction of a phytal harpacticoid copepod

Abstract : Harmful algal blooms are a source of increasing concern within the health, economic and ecological sectors. In the Mediterranean Sea, severe blooms of the benthic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata have been occurring since the beginning of the century, causing human intoxications by inhalation of bio-aerosols or direct contact with cells. The toxicity of this dinoflagellate is attributed to the presence of palytoxin and several of its analogs called ovatoxins, palytoxin being one of the most potent marine toxins. While mass mortalities of marine invertebrates have already been reported in relation with O. cf. ovata blooms, the toxic effects of this dinoflagellate on benthic organisms is still poorly documented. In the present study, laboratory experiments were performed on a meiobenthic copepod (Sarsamphiascus cf. propinquus), which naturally lives on macrophytes in close contact to O. cf. ovata, in order to assess its potential toxic effects on mortality, fecal pellet production (as a proxy of feeding), as well as fecundity and fertility ratios. Both, O. cf. ovata as well as a non-toxic competitive diatom (Licmophora paradoxa), were used as food in the experiments. Regarding acute toxicity evaluation, this copepod proved to be the most tolerant organism to O. cf. ovata reported to date. Nevertheless, its fecundity and fertility ratios were lower when fed with the toxic dinoflagellate, indicating a possible reprotoxic effect. Moreover, although fecal pellet production decreased significantly when the copepod was fed with a mono-diet of O. cf. ovata, epifluorescence microscopy observations revealed the presence of the toxic cells inside the digestive track, hence suggesting that these primary grazers could be a vector of toxins through the marine food web.
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Pavaux Anne-Sophie, Rostan Julie, Laurence Guidi-Guilvard, Marro Sophie, Ternon Eva, et al.. Effects of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata on survival, feeding and reproduction of a phytal harpacticoid copepod. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Elsevier, 2019, 516, pp.103-113. ⟨10.1016/j.jembe.2019.05.004⟩. ⟨hal-02336463⟩

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