MEPS 254:49-56 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps254049

Effects of the toxic haptophyte Prymnesium parvum on the survival and feeding of a ciliate: the influence of different nutrient conditions

Edna Granéli*, Niclas Johansson

Department of Marine Sciences, University of Kalmar, Box 905, 39129 Kalmar, Sweden

ABSTRACT: We studied the growth and feeding response of the ciliate Euplotes affinis when exposed to algal cultures of Prymnesium parvum and Rhodomonas cf. baltica as monocultures or as mixtures. Cultures of P. parvum grown under nutrient-limited (N or P) or nutrient-sufficient conditions were tested for toxicity against E. affinis. Ciliates grew well when fed R. cf. baltica, but avoided grazing on monocultures of P. parvum, regardless of algal concentration. Increasing abundances of P. parvum decreased survival of the ciliate, even if supplied as a mixture together with high concentrations of R. cf. baltica as an alternative prey. This implies that P. parvum produces substances that were fatal to the ciliate when released to the medium. The lethal effect of P. parvum was dependent on the physiological status of the cells, with the highest toxicity in nutrient-stressed cultures. Our results suggest that toxin production in P. parvum may be a chemical defense to repel predators.


KEY WORDS: Prymnesium parvum · Toxic algae · Grazing avoidance · Nutrient limitation · Grazing · Growth · Ciliate


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