Modelling the Stoichiometric Regulation of C-Rich Toxins in Marine Dinoflagellates

Pinna, A, Pezzolesi, L, Pistocchi, R, Vanucci, S, Ciavatta, S and Polimene, L 2015 Modelling the Stoichiometric Regulation of C-Rich Toxins in Marine Dinoflagellates. PLoS one, 10 (9).

journal.pone.0139046.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


Toxin production in marine microalgae was previously shown to be tightly coupled with cellular stoichiometry. The highest values of cellular toxin are in fact mainly associated with a high carbon to nutrient cellular ratio. In particular, the cellular accumulation of C-rich toxins (i.e., with C:N > 6.6) can be stimulated by both N and P deficiency. Dinoflagellates are the main producers of C-rich toxins and may represent a serious threat for human health and the marine ecosystem. As such, the development of a numerical model able to predict how toxin production is stimulated by nutrient supply/deficiency is of primary utility for both scientific and management purposes. In this work we have developed a mechanistic model describing the stoichiometric regulation of C-rich toxins in marine dinoflagellates. To this purpose, a new formulation describing toxin production and fate was embedded in the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM), here simplified to describe a monospecific batch culture. Toxin production was assumed to be composed by two distinct additive terms; the first is a constant fraction of algal production and is assumed to take place at any physiological conditions. The second term is assumed to be dependent on algal biomass and to be stimulated by internal nutrient deficiency. By using these assumptions, the model reproduced the concentrations and temporal evolution of toxins observed in cultures of Ostreopsis cf. ovata, a benthic/epiphytic dinoflagellate producing C-rich toxins named ovatoxins. The analysis of simulations and their comparison with experimental data provided a conceptual model linking toxin production and nutritional status in this species. The model was also qualitatively validated by using independent literature data, and the results indicate that our formulation can be also used to simulate toxin dynamics in other dinoflagellates. Our model represents an important step towards the simulation and prediction of marine algal toxicity.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Subjects: Biology
Earth Sciences
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > National Centre for Earth Observation
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine System Modelling
Depositing User: Stefano Ciavatta
Date made live: 24 Feb 2016 14:39
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2023 12:21

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item