DSP toxin production de novo in cultures of Dinophysis acuminata (Dinophyceae) from North America

Jeremiah D. Hackett, Mengmeng Tong, David M. Kulis, Elie Fux, Philipp Hess, Ronel Bire, Donald M. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


For decades, many aspects of Dinophysis biology have remained intractable due to our inability to maintain these organisms in laboratory cultures. Recent breakthroughs in culture methods have opened the door for detailed investigations of these important algae. Here, for the first time, we demonstrate toxin production in cultures of North American Dinophysis acuminata, isolated from Woods Hole, MA. These findings show that, despite the rarity of Dinophysis-related DSP events in North America, D. acuminata from this area has the ability to produce DSP toxins just as it does in other parts of the world where this species is a major cause of DSP toxicity. In our cultures, D. acuminata cells were observed feeding on Myrionecta rubra using a peduncle. Culture extracts were analyzed using LC-MS/MS, providing unequivocal evidence for the toxin DTX1 in the Dinophysis cultures. In addition, a significant amount of an okadaic acid diol ester, OA-D8, was detected. These results suggest that this Dinophysis isolate stores much of its OA as a diol ester. Also, toxin PTX-2 and a hydroxylated PTX-2 with identical fragmentation mass spectrum to that of PTX-11, but with a different retention time, were detected in this D. acuminata culture. This demonstration of toxin production in cultured North American Dinophysis sets the stage for more detailed studies investigating the causes of geographic differences in toxicity. It is now clear that North American Dinophysis have the ability to produce DSP toxins even though they only rarely cause toxic DSP events in nature. This may reflect environmental conditions that might induce or repress toxin production, genetic differences that cause modifications in toxin gene expression, or physiological and biochemical differences in prey species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-879
Number of pages7
JournalHarmful Algae
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Diarrhetic shellfish poisioning (DSP)
  • Dinophysis
  • Okadaic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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