Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution of Plants

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Friday April 26, 2024, 5pm GMT+2


Erik L. J. E. Broemsen1

Thermal ecotypes of Karlodinium veneficum as demonstrated through determination of division time (td) for in situ growth rate measurement

1. University of North Carolina at Charlotte


The toxic dinoflagellate Karlodinium veneficum forms fish killing blooms in temperate estuaries worldwide. These blooms have variable toxicity which may be related to bloom stage and in situ growth rates of the constituent K. veneficum cells. Measurement of in situ growth rates is challenging and methods such as the mitotic index technique require knowledge of the dynamics of cell division. In order to better understand these dynamics, we determined the duration of cell division (td) in four geographically distinct laboratory strains of K. veneficum at three different environmentally relevant temperatures. The results demonstrated that the td value for each strain, growing at strain-specific optimal temperatures, was 1.6 ± 0.1 h. This value corresponded to a range of growth rates from 0.17 ± 0.08 d−1 to 0.62 ± 0.07 d−1. Equivalent values of td spread across four geographically distinct laboratory strains and a nearly fourfold range of growth rates implies that 1.6 h represents the td value of K. veneficum. Additionally, temperature conditions yielding this value for td and the highest growth rates varied among strains, indicating cold-adapted (Norway), warm-adapted (Florida, USA), and eurythermally-adapted (Maryland, USA) strains. These differences have been apparently retained in culture over many years, indicating a conserved genetic basis that suggests distinct thermal ecotypes of the morphospecies K. veneficum. This knowledge together with the first estimate of td for K. veneficum will be useful in future field studies aimed at correlating bloom toxicity with in situ growth rate using the mitotic index technique.