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      Copepods induce paralytic shellfish toxin production in marine dinoflagellates.

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          Abstract

          Among the thousands of unicellular phytoplankton species described in the sea, some frequently occurring and bloom-forming marine dinoflagellates are known to produce the potent neurotoxins causing paralytic shellfish poisoning. The natural function of these toxins is not clear, although they have been hypothesized to act as a chemical defence towards grazers. Here, we show that waterborne cues from the copepod Acartia tonsa induce paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) production in the harmful algal bloom-forming dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum. Induced A. minutum contained up to 2.5 times more toxins than controls and was more resistant to further copepod grazing. Ingestion of non-toxic alternative prey was not affected by the presence of induced A. minutum. The ability of A. minutum to sense and respond to the presence of grazers by increased PST production and increased resistance to grazing may facilitate the formation of harmful algal blooms in the sea.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Proc. Biol. Sci.
          Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
          0962-8452
          0962-8452
          Jul 7 2006
          : 273
          : 1594
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Marine Ecology, Göteborg University, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory, SE 452 96 Strömstad, Sweden. erik.selander@tmbl.gu.se
          Article
          DT360L7266462762
          10.1098/rspb.2006.3502
          16769640

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