Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 2, pp 441–447 | Cite as

Toxic dinoflagellates (Alexandrium fundyense and A. catenella) have minimal apparent effects on oyster hemocytes

  • Hélène Hégaret
  • Gary H. WikforsEmail author
  • Philippe Soudant
  • Christophe Lambert
  • Sandra E. Shumway
  • Jean Baptiste Bérard
  • Patrick Lassus
Research Article


The possible effect of Alexandrium spp. containing paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins on the hemocytes of oysters was tested experimentally. In one trial, eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica Gmelin, were exposed to bloom concentrations of the sympatric dinoflagellate, Alexandrium fundyense Balech, alone and in a mixture with a non-toxic diatom, Thalassiosira weissflogii (Grun) Fryxell et Hasle. Subsequently, another experiment exposed Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas Thunberg, to a mixed suspension of the sympatric, toxic species Alexandrium catenella (Whedon et Kofoid) Balech, with T. weissflogii. Measurements of numbers of oyster hemocytes, percentages of different cell types, and functions (phagocytosis, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and mortality) were made using flow-cytometry. During and after exposure, almost no significant effects of Alexandrium spp. upon hemocyte numbers, morphology, or functions were detected, despite observations of adductor-muscle paralysis in C. virginica and measured toxin accumulation in C. gigas. The only significant correlation found was between toxin accumulation at one temperature and higher numbers of circulating live and dead hemocytes in C. gigas. The PSP toxins are known to interfere specifically with sodium-channel function; therefore, the finding that the toxins had no effect on measured hemocyte functions suggests that sodium-channel physiology is not important in these hemocyte functions. Finally, because oysters were exposed to the living algae, not purified toxins, there was no evidence of bioactive compounds other than PSP toxins affecting hemocytes in the two species of Alexandrium studied.


Hemocyte Pacific Oyster Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Eastern Oyster Toxin Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Jennifer Alix, Mark Dixon, Barry Smith, Philippe Truquet and Michèle Bardouil for their help conducting the experiments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hélène Hégaret
    • 1
  • Gary H. Wikfors
    • 2
    Email author
  • Philippe Soudant
    • 3
  • Christophe Lambert
    • 3
  • Sandra E. Shumway
    • 1
  • Jean Baptiste Bérard
    • 4
  • Patrick Lassus
    • 4
  1. 1.Marine Science DepartmentUniversity of ConnecticutGrotonUSA
  2. 2.NOAA FisheriesNortheast Fisheries Science CenterMilfordUSA
  3. 3.LEMAR UMR 6539IUEM-UBOPlouzanéFrance
  4. 4.IFREMERNantesFrance

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