Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)
Effects of field and laboratory exposure to the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis on the reproduction of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, and subsequent development of offspring
Rolton A, Vignier J, Volety AK, Pierce R, Henry M, Shumway S, Bricelj M, Hégaret H, Soudant P 2016. Effects of field and laboratory exposure to the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis on the reproduction of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, and subsequent development of offspring. Harmful algae, 57, 13-26.
DOI link here
Blooms of the brevetoxin-producing dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis, are a recurrent and sometimes devastating phenomenon in the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, is exposed regularly to these blooms, yet little is known about the impacts of K. brevis upon this important species. The present study considered the effects of exposure to both a natural bloom and cultured K. brevis on the reproductive development of C. virginica. Oysters had been exposed to a bloom of K. brevis that occurred in Lee County, Florida, from September 2012 through May 2013, during a period of gametogenesis and gamete ripening. Ripe adult oysters were collected from this bloom-exposed site and from a site 200 miles north which was not exposed to any bloom. In addition, responses to two 10-day laboratory exposures of either unripe or ripe adult oysters to whole cells of K. brevis at high bloom concentrations (1000 and 5000 cells mL−1) were determined. Both field- and laboratory-exposed adult oysters accumulated PbTx (attaining ∼22 × 103 ng g−1 and 922 ng g−1 PbTx-3 equivalents in the laboratory and the field, respectively), and significant mucal, edematous, and inflammatory features, indicative of a defense response, were recorded in adult tissues in direct contact with K. brevis cells. Laboratory-exposed oysters also showed an increase in the total number of circulating hemocytes suggesting that: (1) new hemocytes may be moving to sites of tissue inflammation, or, (2) hemocytes are released into the circulatory system from inflamed tissues where they may be produced. The area of oyster tissue occupied by gonad (representative of reproductive effort) and reactive oxygen species production in the spermatozoa of oysters exposed to the natural bloom of K. brevis were significantly lower compared to oysters that were not exposed to K. brevis. Additionally, following 10-day exposure of ripe oysters, a significant, 46% reduction in the prevalence of individuals with ripe gametes was obtained in the 5000 cells mL−1K. brevis treatment.
Brevetoxin (PbTx) was recorded within the spermatozoa and oocytes of naturally exposed oysters and was estimated to be 18 and 26% of the adult PbTx load, respectively. Larvae derived from gametes containing PbTx showed significantly higher mortalities and attained a smaller larval size for the first 6 days post-fertilization. These negative effects on larval development may be due to the presence of PbTx in the lipid droplets of the oocytes, which is mobilized by the larvae during embryonic and lecithotrophic larval development. Provision of a non-contaminated food source to larvae however, appeared to mitigate the early negative effects of this neonatal PbTx exposure.
Results herein show that adult eastern oysters and their offspring are susceptible to exposure to K. brevis. Caution should therefore be exercised when identifying oyster reef restoration areas and in efforts to establish aquaculture in areas prone to red tides.