Scientia Marina, Vol 78, No 2 (2014)

Evaluation of marine phytoplankton toxicity by application of marine invertebrate bioassays

Eva Aylagas
AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Division , Spain

Iratxe Menchaca
AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Division , Spain

Aitor Laza-Martínez
Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) , Spain

Sergio Seoane
Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) , Spain

Javier Franco
AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Division , Spain


The dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum and the haptophyte Prymnesium parvum are well known for their toxin production and negative effects in marine coastal environments. A. minutum produces toxins which cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans and can affect copepods, shellfish and other marine organisms. Toxins of P. parvum are associated with massive fish mortalities resulting in negative impacts on the marine ecosystem and large economic losses in commercial aquaculture. The aim of this work is to improve our knowledge about the reliability of the use of marine invertebrate bioassays to detect microalgae toxicity, by performing: (i) a 24- to 48-h test with the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana; (ii) a 48-hour embryo-larval toxicity test with the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus; and (iii) a 72-h test with the amphipod Corophium multisetosum. The results indicate that A. franciscana and P. lividus larvae are sensitive to the toxicity of A. minutum and P. parvum. LC50 comparison analysis between the tested organisms reveals that A. franciscana is the most sensitive organism for A. minutum. These findings suggest that the use of different organizational biological level bioassays appears to be a suitable tool for A. minutum and P. parvum toxicity assessment.


Alexandrium minutum; Prymnesium parvum; Paracentrotus lividus; Artemia franciscana; Corophium multisetosum; toxicity bioassays

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