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Responses of sympatric Karenia brevis, Prorocentrum minimum, and Heterosigma akashiwo to the exposure of crude oil

2014-10-01
Özhan, Koray
Bargu, Sibel
Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on phytoplankton, particularly, the tolerability and changes to the toxin profiles of harmful toxic algal species remain unknown. The degree to which oil-affected sympatric Karenia brevis, Prorocentrum minimum, and Heterosigma akashiwo, all of which are ecologically important species in the Gulf of Mexico, was investigated. Comparison of their tolerability to that of non-toxic species showed that the toxin-production potential of harmful species does not provide a selective advantage. Investigated toxin profiles for K. brevis and P. minimum demonstrated an increase in toxin productivity at the lowest crude oil concentration (0.66 mg L-1) tested in this study. Higher crude oil concentrations led to significant growth inhibition and a decrease in toxin production. Findings from this study could assist in the assessment of shellfish bed closures due to high risk of increased toxin potential of these phytoplankton species, especially during times of stressed conditions.