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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 85:155-166 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01946

Growth and phosphatase activities of Ostreopsis cf. ovata biofilms supplied with diverse dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) compounds

Neil Thomas William Ellwood1, Marisa Margherita Pasella2,3, Cecilia Totti2,4, Stefano Accoroni2,4,*

1Dipartimento di Scienze, Università Roma Tre, Viale G. Marconi 446, 00146 Roma, Italy
2Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy
3School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
4Consorzio Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare, CoNISMa, ULR Ancona, 60131 Ancona, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: It is becoming increasingly evident that the use of organic nutrients is widespread among many aquatic phototrophic organisms. Simultaneously, incidents of eutrophication of coastal waters are becoming more common due to rises in organic nutrient loads deriving from anthropogenic activities and natural terrestrial processes. In the northern Adriatic Sea, blooms of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata are reported as a frequent phenomenon linked to particular environmental conditions, including increased organic nutrient loads. Ostreopsis blooms typically produce a mucilaginous biofilm that can cover all benthic substrata. In order to clarify the role of dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) in the onset and maintenance of an O. cf. ovata bloom, we investigated the growth rates in the presence of a range of phosphomonoesters (PMEs) (D-fructose 1,6-disphosphate, β-glycerophosphate, α-D-glucose 1-phosphate, guanosine 5’-monophosphate and phytic acid) and phosphodiesters (PDEs) (DNA and RNA). Levels of both phosphomonoesterase (PMEase) and phosphodiesterase (PDEase) activities were assessed in the O. cf. ovata biofilms. The results showed that O. cf. ovata growth is not inhibited in media containing a wide range of DOP and diverse ratios of PME:PDE compared to those containing inorganic phosphorus. Much of the hydrolytic activity was associated with bacteria and with extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs). Our findings suggest that the success of O. cf. ovata stems from the collective participation of all components of the biofilm (O. cf. ovata, EPSs and bacteria) that allows it to thrive in phosphorus-limited environments, but where the main source of phosphorus is organic.


KEY WORDS: Ostreopsis · Harmful benthic dinoflagellate · Phosphorus limitation · Phosphomonoesterase · Phosphodiesterase · Organic phosphorus


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Cite this article as: Ellwood NTW, Pasella MM, Totti C, Accoroni S (2020) Growth and phosphatase activities of Ostreopsis cf. ovata biofilms supplied with diverse dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) compounds. Aquat Microb Ecol 85:155-166. https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01946

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