Recurrent high-biomass blooms of Alexandrium taylorii (Dinophyceae), a HAB species expanding in the Mediterranean
Summer outbreaks of the dinoflagellate Alexandrium taylorii Balech are recurrent events in nearshore waters of Sicily (Italy)—a central region in the Mediterranean Sea—producing dense yellowish-green patches. Beyond the local phenomenon, the problem covers a broader geographic scale, involving also other European localities, mostly in Spain.
Biological, environmental, and molecular data are reported here from a semi-closed bay of Sicily (Vulcano Island, Tyrrhenian Sea, 2000–2003), showing in summer the recurrence of high-biomass blooms and events of water discolouration. Without underestimating the setbacks to the tourism industry, the ecological impact of A. taylorii blooms may be important considering the high levels of biomass produced (West Bay, Vulcano: up to a magnitude order of 107 cells l−1, 50–180 µg-Chla l−1, June 2002 and 2003) and coincident conditions of oxygen supersaturation of the waters (130–170%). Trophic trends in the Tyrrhenian site indicate high amounts of nutrients linked to the increased anthropogenic activity in summer, although recently there has been an apparent shift of the marked eutrophic conditions towards a slighter eutrophy.
Genetic data on isolates of A. taylorii from the Mediterranean Sea are also discussed. Molecular analyses implied the sequencing of target rDNA regions (5.8S rDNA and ITS regions) of several isolates from different Mediterranean localities, as well as the application of species-specific PCR assays for rapid species identification in preserved field samples. The confirmation of the specific identity provided new insights into the biogeography of this species and further evidence of the occurrence of A. taylorii in a number of Mediterranean localities, both in the western side (the Catalan coast of Spain) and the eastern area (Greece). Analyses of the molecular diversity of geographically distinct isolates of A. taylorii from Italy, Spain, and Greece based on the 5.8S rDNAITS region sequences showed a high level of similarity, indicating the existence of an unique Mediterranean population.
KeywordsAlexandrium taylorii Dinoflagellate blooms Mediterranean PCR Phylogeny
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