Interactions between the brown tide-causing microalga Aureococcus anophagefferens and the small diatom Minutocellus polymorphus under laboratory culture

  • Yanghang Chen
  • Yahui GaoEmail author
  • Changping Chen
  • Xuesong Li
  • Junrong Liang
  • Lin Sun
  • Yingyue Wang


Brown tides caused by Aureococcus anophagefferens (Pelagophyta) have broken out frequently and have caused serious ecological problems in the coastal waters of the Bohai Sea, China, since 2009. During the brown tides caused by A. anophagefferens, the small marine diatom Minutocellus polymorphus has often become dominant, co-existing with A. anophagefferens. To investigate the bloom formation mechanisms and co-existence factors involved, bi-algal culture and growth experiments with culture filtrates were performed under laboratory-controlled conditions. In our experiments, A. anophagefferens and M. polymorphus growth was allelopathically suppressed by the other species, depending on initial cell densities and growth stages; however, the species did not outcompete each other during the observed time frame. The results also suggested that the relevant allelochemicals might be a mixture containing some temperature-sensitive compounds. Growth simulation performed via the Lotka-Volterra model indicated that the initial cell density of these two species was critical in determining their growth and competition in bi-algal culture. Our results showed that a similar allelopathic effect was exerted by A. anophagefferens on M. polymorphus and vice versa. This effect could be important in allowing the observed co-existence of these two species in natural waters during brown tides.


Allelopathy Brown tide Succession Aureococcus anophagefferens Minutocellus polymorphus 



This study was supported by the Major State Research Development Program of China (no. 2016YFA0601302) and the National Marine Public Welfare Research Project (201205031-03). The authors would like to thank Dr. Xiaotian Han of the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for generously providing the A. anophagefferens CCMP 1850 algal strain.

Supplementary material

10811_2018_1704_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
ESM 1 The correlation between the OD680 and cell density of Aureococcus anophagefferens (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanghang Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yahui Gao
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Changping Chen
    • 2
    • 4
  • Xuesong Li
    • 2
  • Junrong Liang
    • 2
    • 4
  • Lin Sun
    • 3
  • Yingyue Wang
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Marine Biology and Ecology, Third Institute of OceanographyState Oceanic AdministrationXiamenChina
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesXiamen UniversityXiamenChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental ScienceXiamen UniversityXiamenChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of the Ministry of Education for Coastal and Wetland EcosystemsXiamen UniversityXiamenChina

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