Spatial and temporal variation of natural toxicity in cnidarians, bryozoans and tunicates in Mediterranean caves
Keywords:natural toxicity, cnidarians, bryozoans, tunicates, variation, Microtox® assay, caves
The natural toxicity of cnidarians, bryozoans and tunicates in two caves was assessed using the Microtox® technique in spring and autumn. One cave was located in the Cabrera Archipelago (Balearic Islands) and the other in the Medes Islands (Catalan littoral). The organisms analysed were good representatives of the coverage of each Phylum in the communities; however, these Phyla are less abundant than sponges which are the dominant group in these caves. Seventy-one percent of the species of cnidarians and bryozoans analysed were toxic in one of the caves, communities or seasons, which indicates the relevance of bioactive species in these groups. The tunicate Lissoclinum perforatum was the most toxic species. Although all three Phyla had some highly toxic species, a common pattern that related the caves, communities and seasons was not found. Seasonal variation of toxicity in cnidarians and bryozoans was higher in the Cabrera than in the Medes cave. Moreover, variation in toxicity either between communities or between seasons was a common trait for most cnidarians and bryozoans, whereas tunicates remained toxic throughout communities and seasons.
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