Modelling growth dynamics and toxin production in Ostreopsis cf. ovata

Pinna, Adriano (2014) Modelling growth dynamics and toxin production in Ostreopsis cf. ovata. [Laurea magistrale], Università di Bologna, Corso di Studio in Biologia marina [LM-DM270] - Ravenna
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The benthic dinoflagellate O. ovata represents a serious threat for human health and for the ecology of its blooming areas: thanks to its toxicity this microalga has been responsible for several cases of human intoxication and mass mortalities of benthic invertebrates. Although the large number of studies on this dinoflagellate, the mechanisms underpinning O. ovata growth and toxin production are still far to be fully understood. In this work we have enriched the dataset on this species by carrying out a new experiment on an Adriatic O. cf. ovata strain. Data from this experiment (named Beta) and from another comparable experiment previously conducted on the same strain (named Alpha), revealed some interesting aspects of this dinoflagellate: it is able to grow also in a condition of strong intracellular nutrient deficiency (C:P molar ratio > 400; C:N > 25), reaching extremely low values of chlorophyll-a to carbon ratio (0.0004). Was also found a significant inverse relationships (r > -0.7) between cellular toxin to carbon and cellular nutrient to carbon ratios of experiment Alpha. In the light of these result, we hypothesized that in O. cf. ovata nutrient-stress conditions (intended as intracellular nutrient deficiency) can cause: i) an increase in toxin production; ii) a strong decrease in chlorophyll-a synthesis; iii) a lowering of metabolism associated with the formation of a sort of resting stage. We then used a modelling approach to test and critically evaluate these hypotheses in a mechanistic way: newly developed formulation describing toxin production and fate, and ad hoc changes in the already existent formulations describing chlorophyll synthesis, rest respiration, and mortality, have been incorporated in a simplified version of the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM), together with a new ad hoc parameterization. The adapted model was able to accurately reproduce many of the trends observed in the Alpha experiment, allowing us to support our hypotheses. Instead the simulations of the experiment Beta were not fully satisfying in quantitative terms. We explained this gap with the presumed different physiological behaviors between the algae of the two experiments, due to the different pre-experimental periods of acclimation: the model was not able to reproduce acclimation processes in its simulations of the experiment Beta. Thus we attempt to simulate the acclimation of the algae to nutrient-stress conditions by manual intervention on some parameters of nutrient-stress thresholds, but we received conflicting results. Further studies are required to shed light on this interesting aspect. In this work we also improve the range of applicability of a state of the art marine biogeochemical model (ERSEM) by implementing in it an ecological relevant process such as the production of toxic compounds.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di laurea (Laurea magistrale)
Autore della tesi
Pinna, Adriano
Relatore della tesi
Corso di studio
Ordinamento Cds
Parole chiave
toxic dinoflagellate, ostreopsis, modelling, ERSEM, ovatoxin
Data di discussione della Tesi
21 Marzo 2014

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