Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 12, pp 2601–2611 | Cite as

Cochlodinium polykrikoides blooms and clonal isolates from the northwest Atlantic coast cause rapid mortality in larvae of multiple bivalve species

  • Ying Zhong Tang
  • Christopher J. GoblerEmail author
Original Paper


Globally, many commercial bivalve populations have declined in recent decades. In addition to overharvesting and habitat loss, the increasing frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms (HABs) are likely to contribute to bivalve losses, particularly in cases where blooms negatively impact larval stages. This paper reports on the lethal effects of clonal cultures and blooms of Cochlodinium polykrikoides from the US Atlantic coast on the larvae of three species of commercially and ecologically valuable bivalves: the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), the bay scallop (Argopecten irradians), and the Northern quahog (hard clam; Mercenaria mercenaria). Both cultures and blooms of C. polykrikoides were highly toxic to all three species of bivalve larvae causing 80–100% mortality during 24- to 72-h exposures at concentrations of 1–2 × 103 cells ml−1. Toxicity was dependent on cell densities, growth stage of C. polykrikoides (i.e. cultures in exponential stage growth were more toxic than later stages), exposure time of larvae to cells (i.e. longer exposure caused higher mortality), the age of larvae (i.e. younger larvae were more sensitive), and the relative abundance of C. polykrikoides (i.e. the presence of other microalgae decreased toxicity). Free radical-scavenging enzymes (peroxidase and catalase) and the removal of C. polykrikoides cells (i.e. culture filtrate) significantly increased larval survival suggesting toxicity is maximized by contact with live cells and may involve labile toxins bound by these compounds including e.g. reactive oxygen species. The toxicity of C. polykrikoides to bivalve larvae was generally more severe than other HAB species (e.g. Karenia brevis, Karlodinium veneficum, Alexandrium tamarense, Prorocentrum minimum). Since the bivalves in this study spawn in the months when C. polykrikoides blooms on the east coast of North America, these results suggest that these blooms may have detrimental effects on efforts to restore these already diminished populations.


Microalgae Bivalve Crassostrea Virginica Bloom Water Eastern Oyster 



We are thankful for the useful comments of two anonymous reviewers. We acknowledge support from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Office of Ecology and the New Tamarind Foundation. We thank Greg Doucette for providing a culture of CPCB-10 and Don Anderson for agreeing to share the culture. We thank Gary Wikfors at Milford laboratory, NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Connecticut, for providing the oyster larvae, Gregg Rivara at the Cornell Cooperative Extension shellfish hatchery facility in Southold, New York for providing the Northern quahog larvae, and N. S. Fisher for supplying the culture of T-Iso. We also thank Alejandra M. Marcoval, Stephanie C. Talmage, and Michael H. Doall for technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Marine and Atmospheric SciencesStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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