Invasive Species Compendium

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Gymnodinium catenatum

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Datasheet

Gymnodinium catenatum

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Gymnodinium catenatum
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Protista
  •     Phylum: Protozoa
  •       Class: Dinophyceae
  •         Order: Gymnodiniales
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • G. catenatum is a photosynthetic dinoflagellate that is most notable as the only naked dinoflagellate known to be responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), a neurotoxic poisoning syndrome which affects...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Bloom population of Gymnodinium catenatum from The Derwent River, Tasmania, Australia.
TitleBloom population
CaptionBloom population of Gymnodinium catenatum from The Derwent River, Tasmania, Australia.
CopyrightChristopher Bolch
Bloom population of Gymnodinium catenatum from The Derwent River, Tasmania, Australia.
Bloom populationBloom population of Gymnodinium catenatum from The Derwent River, Tasmania, Australia.Christopher Bolch
Planktonic 4-cell chain of Gymnodinium catenatum.
TitlePlanktonic 4-cell chain
CaptionPlanktonic 4-cell chain of Gymnodinium catenatum.
CopyrightChristopher Bolch
Planktonic 4-cell chain of Gymnodinium catenatum.
Planktonic 4-cell chainPlanktonic 4-cell chain of Gymnodinium catenatum.Christopher Bolch
Light microscope image of the spherical, brown, resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum.
TitleResting cyst
CaptionLight microscope image of the spherical, brown, resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum.
CopyrightChristopher Bolch
Light microscope image of the spherical, brown, resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum.
Resting cystLight microscope image of the spherical, brown, resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum.Christopher Bolch
Scanning electron microscope image of a resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum. Note the microreticulate surface markings, the girdle and apical groove.
TitleResting cyst
CaptionScanning electron microscope image of a resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum. Note the microreticulate surface markings, the girdle and apical groove.
CopyrightChristopher Bolch
Scanning electron microscope image of a resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum. Note the microreticulate surface markings, the girdle and apical groove.
Resting cystScanning electron microscope image of a resting cyst of Gymnodinium catenatum. Note the microreticulate surface markings, the girdle and apical groove.Christopher Bolch

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Gymnodinium catenatum

Summary of Invasiveness

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G. catenatum is a photosynthetic dinoflagellate that is most notable as the only naked dinoflagellate known to be responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), a neurotoxic poisoning syndrome which affects human consumers of contaminated shellfish. Shellfish contamination by PSP affects thousands of people per year on a worldwide basis and the economic costs of harmful algal blooms in the United States alone are in excess of 50 million dollars annually (Hoagland et al., 2002). In Australia, the direct costs (toxin and plankton monitoring) of PSP contamination of shellfish exceed 1 million Australian dollars per year. Indirect costs to the shellfish industry are difficult to estimate, but include loss of income and markets due to harvest closures and the “halo effect” of reduced confidence in shellfish and other seafood products.

Australian populations form dense and extensive blooms confined largely to estuarine and coastal waters typically in calm conditions and stratified water columns after heavy rainfall (Hallegraeff et al., 1995). Coastal currents can disperse the organism along coastlines to suitable estuarine/coastal habitats. In some areas of the world populations appear to be also associated with continental shelf-edge upwelling areas (e.g. northwest Spain, New Zealand) that can facilitate rapid and widespread dispersal along coastlines (Mackenzie and Beauchamp, 2002; Sordo et al., 2001). Resistant resting stages (cysts) are formed during periods of nutrient stress which fall to the bottom sediments and may later germinate to establish a planktonic population when conditions are suitable. These cysts are highly resistant to physical and chemical attack, are long-lived (>10 years) under suitably anoxic conditions, and are therefore capable of long-distance (inter-continental) dispersal by a number of natural or anthropogenic vectors. The most notable vector is ballast water (Hallegraeff and Bolch, 1992); other vectors include equipment contaminated with marine water or sediment (e.g. dredges and fishing gear), movements of commercial shellfish or other marine animals, attachment to flotsam/jetsam and seaweed.


Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Protista
  •         Phylum: Protozoa
  •             Class: Dinophyceae
  •                 Order: Gymnodiniales
  •                     Family: Gymnodiniaceae
  •                         Genus: Gymnodinium
  •                             Species: Gymnodinium catenatum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Gymnodiniales is a diverse and highly variable group of dinoflagellates, sometimes known as “naked” dinoflagellates, which do not possess the array of cellulose-like plates as part of their outer cell covering (amphiesma). The largest genus of the group, Gymnodinium, has in the past included a huge diversity of naked photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic forms. Molecular and ultra-structural studies over the past 10-15 years indicate that the genus contains many divergent or unrelated lineages and many species have been transferred to newly erected genera leaving the genus Gymnodinum more tightly defined as naked species that possess a horseshoe-shaped apical groove encircling the apex of the cell (Daugbjerg et al., 2000). Current classical and molecular taxonomic data indicate that the toxic dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum is relatively closely related to the type species of the genus Gymnodinium fuscum. As of early 2008, there are no proposals to move G. catenatum out of the genus Gymnodinium. The toxic, chain forming G. catenatum is part of a group of 4 species known as the microreticulate-cyst species that include the non-chain forming, non-toxic species Gymnodinium nolleri (Ellegaard and Oshima 1998), Gymnodinium microreticulatum (Bolch et al., 1999) and Gymnodinium trapeziforme (Attaran-Fariman et al., 2007).


First described in 1939 from the Gulf of California (Graham, 1943), G. catenatum was not reported again till 1962 from the coast of Argentina (Balech 1964). Due to its large size and conspicuous chain-forming nature it is easily recognized and no synonymous species have been formally described although up until the late 1990s it was regularly confused with other superficially similar chain-forming, photosynthetic species such as Cochlodinium catenatum, Cochlodinium polykrikoides and Gymnodiniumimpudicum (e.g. Carrada et al., 1991). Many pre-1993 reports of G. catenatum resting cysts and cells from the Baltic Sea and Northern Europe (e.g. Dale et al., 1993; Ellegaard et al., 1993; Nehring, 1995; Peperzak et al., 1996; Thorsen and Dale, 1998) refer to the closely related G. nolleri and/or G. microreticulatum; the bulk of these erroneous reports are clarified by Bolch and Reynolds (2002) and Bolch and Salas (2007).

Description

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G. catenatum is a large (30-40 µm cell width) photosynthetic, gymnodinoid dinoflagellate that forms distinctive long chains of cells. Cells of G. catenatum have a girdle groove (cingulum) that encircles the cell only once. Single cells are not uncommon and are difficult to distinguish from a range of other photosynthetic Gymnodinium species without detailed examination of intracellular features such as the shape and distribution of the chloroplasts and the nucleus (Hallegraeff et al., 1988; Rees and Hallegraeff, 1991). The resting cyst is a distinctive red-brown colour and 35-62 µm in diameter with complex microreticulate surface markings that reflect structures present on the planktonic cell (girdle and ventral groove and a loop-shaped apical groove).


Apart from its spectacular planktonic form, it is most notable as the only naked dinoflagellate known to produce paralytic shellfish toxins (PST, saxitoxins). It is a causative organism of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), a neurotoxic poisoning syndrome which affects human consumers of contaminated shellfish. Shellfish contamination by PSP affects thousands of people per year on a worldwide basis and the economic costs of harmful algal blooms in the United States alone are in excess of 50 million dollars annually (Hoagland et al., 2002).

Distribution

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From combination of confirmed planktonic and benthic resting cyst reports, G. catenatum has now been documented within discrete areas along the coastlines of all continents (see Bolch and Reynolds, 2002; Bolch and Salas, 2007). These two works also clarify a number of earlier reports of G. catenatum that are now known to refer to related species or other morphologically similar species. G. catenatum is best described as widespread but rare or cryptic, ranging from tropical to cool-temperate waters. Distribution within most areas is typically localised within a few hundred kilometres of coastline; however, reports are typically scattered or confined to specific bloom areas/events. Localised distributions appear to be increasing over time and it is likely that local distributions are more widespread than currently documented.

There are insufficient biogeographical and comparative molecular data to determine the most likely native range of G. catenatum; however, several populations are suspected of being relatively recent natural dispersal events or anthropogenic introductions (e.g. Portugal (Amorim and Dale, 2006)). The only convincing evidence supporting introduction is that for the introduction of G. catenatum from northern Asia (southern Japan) into Australasia (Australia and New Zealand) (Bolch and Salas, 2007).

In addition to the countries listed in the distribution table, G. catenatum is also present in South Africa and Palau (C Bolch, University of Tasmania, personal communication, 2008).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Sea Areas

Mediterranean and Black SeaWidespreadGómez, 2003

Asia

ChinaWidespreadQi et al., 1996
IndiaLocalisedGodhe et al., 1996
IndonesiaPresent, few occurrencesHolmes et al., 2002
JapanWidespreadMatsuoka and Fukuyo, 1994
-HonshuWidespreadMatsuoka and Fukuyo, 1994
-KyushuWidespreadMatsuoka and Fukuyo, 1994
-ShikokuWidespreadMatsuoka and Fukuyo, 1994
Korea, Republic ofWidespreadKim et al., 1996
KuwaitPresentGlibert et al., 2002
MalaysiaPresentAnton and Mohamad-Noor, 1996
PhilippinesPresentFukuyo et al., 1993
SingaporePresent, few occurrencesHolmes et al., 2002

Africa

AngolaLocalisedRangel and Silva, 2006
MoroccoWidespreadTagmouti et al., 1995
Spain
-Canary IslandsWidespreadTargarona et al., 1999

North America

MexicoLocalisedBand-Schmidt et al., 2006

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentViquez and Hargraves, 1995
CubaPresentLeal et al., 2003

South America

ArgentinaLocalisedBalech, 1964
BrazilLocalisedOliveira-Proença et al., 2001
UruguayWidespreadMendez and Brazeiro, 1993
VenezuelaLocalisedBarbera-Sánchez and Gamboa-Maruez, 2001

Europe

GibraltarWidespreadGómez, 2003
GreecePresentGiannakourou et al., 2005
PortugalWidespreadFranca and Almeida, 1989
Russian FederationPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Russian Far EastLocalisedOrlova et al., 2004
SpainWidespreadEstrada et al., 1984

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesLocalisedBolch and Reynolds, 2002
-South AustraliaLocalisedBolch and Reynolds, 2002
-TasmaniaWidespreadHallegraeff et al., 1988
-VictoriaWidespreadSonneman and Hill, 1997

History of Introduction and Spread

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Prior to the early 1970s, reports of G. catenatum cells were rare. Since its description from the Gulf of Mexico in 1939 (Graham, 1943), it had only been reported from Argentina in 1962 (Balech, 1964) and Japan in 1967 (Hada, 1967; as Gymnodinium sp. A3). Recent 210Pb-dated cyst studies have since shown that G. catenatum has been present in southern and western Japan since at least 1700 (Matsuoka et al., 2006). Scientific attention on the species was heightened after it was discovered as the cause of human PSP poisonings in Spain in 1976 (Estrada et al., 1984) and Mexico in 1979 (Mee et al., 1986). The geographic extent of G. catenatum reports increased rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s. The discovery of a distinctive microreticulate resting cyst (Anderson et al., 1988) prompted others to search for resting cysts and many reports of similarly patterned cysts emerged, often in areas where the species had never been seen in the plankton, such as northern Europe (Dale et al., 1993; Ellegaard et al., 1993; Nehring, 1995). A number of these reports have since been attributed to the related non-toxic species G. nolleri (Ellegaard and Oshima, 1998) and G. microreticulatum (Bolch et al., 1999; Bolch and Reynolds, 2002); however, it is clear that G. catenatum has established populations on the coast of all continents except Antarctica (Bolch and Reynolds, 2002; Bolch and Salas, 2007).
 

While a number of populations around the globe are suspected of being introduced, strong supporting evidence only exists for the introduction of Australasian G. catenatum from southern Japan, most likely via resting cysts contained in ballast water discharged from bulk cargo vessels entering Tasmanian waters from the early 1970s (McMinn et al., 1997; Bolch and Salas, 2007). Blooms in Australian waters were first identified in the Derwent Estuary (Hobart, Tasmania) in September 1985 (Hallegraeff et al., 1988). Massive blooms in Huon Estuary in southern Tasmania during September 1985 to March 1986 led to widespread closure of the local shellfish industry for several months (Hallegraeff and Sumner, 1986). Examination of historical plankton samples established its presence in southern Tasmania since at least 1980 (Hallegraeff et al., 1989). Sediment 210Pb-dating studies of resting cysts indicate that G. catenatum had been present in southern Tasmania since the early 1970s (McMinn et al., 1997). During the 1990s G. catenatum was discovered at a number of mainland Australian sites. In 1993, abundant resting cysts were found at several sites along the southern coast of Victoria (Sonneman and Hill, 1997) and a single culture was established from Port Philip Bay (since lost). Populations are also known from Port Lincoln in South Australia (Bolch and Reynolds, 2002), a suspected secondary translocation of Tasmanian populations (McMinn et al., 2001), and the Hawkesbury River Estuary in New South Wales (Bolch and Reynolds, 2002).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia Japan 1971 Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes Bolch and Salas (2007); McMinn et al. (1997)

Risk of Introduction

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Once established on a coastline, there are multiple means by which G. catenatum may spread to other suitable habitats along the coast. Gradual dispersal of blooms or resting cysts via coastal currents is inevitable. Longer range (hundreds of kilometres) secondary dispersal by shipping, recreational or other vessels is possible, and is the suspected vector for dispersal from southern Tasmania to Port Lincoln, South Australia, between port environments. Any activity that transfers untreated seawater or marine sediment at ambient temperatures (ranging from 4.0 to 45°C) to unaffected marine environments has the potential to spread G. catenatum to new environments (e.g. marine equipment such as dredges and fishing gear, commercial shellfish or other marine animals and fauna).

Habitat

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Australian populations are confined largely to coastal estuaries and sheltered embayments (Hallegraeff et al., 1989) and cells die when dispersed offshore, away from protected shorelines and estuaries. Coastal currents can disperse the organism along coastlines to suitable estuarine/coastal habitats. In a number of other areas of the world (e.g. Japan, Korea, northwest Spain, New Zealand), planktonic populations appear to be also associated with continental shelf-edge upwelling areas (Mackenzie and Beauchamp, 2002; Sordo et al., 2001).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Multiple
Littoral
Mud flats Present, no further details Natural
Intertidal zone Present, no further details Natural
Brackish
Estuaries Principal habitat Natural
Lagoons Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Marine
 
Inshore marine Principal habitat Natural
Pelagic zone (offshore) Principal habitat Natural
Benthic zone Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Like most planktonic dinoflagellates, the main lifecycle phase is the motile haploid cell phase. Benthic resting cysts are the diploid phase of the sexual lifecycle. 

Reproductive Biology

The primary form of population growth is through mitotic binary division of planktonic cells. Cell division occurs typically along a dorso-ventral diagonal plane, with the right side daughter cell migrating to a position below the other daughter cell and remaining attached to form chains (Blackburn et al., 1989). Other forms of division (sexual and non-sexual) have been noted in laboratory cultures (Figueroa et al., 2006) but the significance and relative frequency of these in natural populations is unclear. Chains may form up to 64 cells in length; however, longer chains (>120 cells) have been seen in some natural bloom populations (C Bolch, University of Tasmania, personal communication). Division of cells in chains is semi-synchronous, beginning at the anterior end of a chain and progressing along the chain such that cells in longer chains have a staggered arrangement (Blackburn et al., 1989).

The sexual lifecycle of G. catenatum is typical of most dinoflagellates. Haploid vegetative cells are induced to act as gametes by as yet unknown mating factors produced by other sexually compatible cells. Gametes can be induced (or promoted) in laboratory cultures under nutrient limited conditions; however, some level of sexual reproduction is often evident even under nutrient-replete conditions (Blackburn et al., 2001). Haploid gametes fuse to form a diploid planozygote (swimming zygote) that matures into the diploid resting cyst (hypnozygote) over a period of days. Resting cysts fall to the bottom. Cysts are capable of germination after a mandatory dormancy period that can be as short as 12 days, but depending on the population or strains could be as long as several weeks. After the mandatory dormancy is completed, cysts may remain viable, but “quiescent” for several years. Laboratory studies indicate that G. catenatum resting cysts will germinate with or without light, at temperatures as low as 4°C (Blackburn et al., 1989), therefore it is assumed that anoxia is the primary factor inhibiting germination of quiescent cysts.

Studies of mating systems of 21 strains from 4 populations indicate that G. catenatum has a multiple group mating system with varying levels of compatibility between mating groups(Blackburn et al., 2001). There is limited evidence of homothallism (self-crossing) and biparental (related) mating (Blackburn et al., 2001); however, cultures established from a single resting cyst are only occasionally self-compatible, indicating at least partial barriers to inbreeding (Bolch and Reynolds, unpublished data).

Environmental Requirements

Laboratory and bloom studies indicate that different G. catenatum populations have diverse environmental tolerances (see Hallegraeff and Fraga, 1998); however, few populations have been studied in extensive detail. Australian populations typically bloom in warmer months from August through to March-April (Hallegraeff et al., 1989, 1995), but since the late 1990s those in Tasmania have bloomed predominantly in winter  (M. de Salas, University of Tasmania, Australia, personal communication, 2011). However, persistent and widespread blooms have also been noted in from May to August. Blooms occur at water temperatures in excess of 12°C (Hallegraeff et al., 1989), and appear correlated with stratified water columns promoted by heavy early-summer rain followed by low winds (Hallegraeff et al., 1995). Laboratory studies of Singapore strains indicate optimum growth at 26-29°C and poor growth below 25°C, suggesting that some tropical and sub-tropical populations are adapted to higher water temperatures. Mexican strains from the Gulf of California also appear to have tolerance of higher water temperatures (Band-Schmidt et al., 2006).

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Salinity (part per thousand) 28 32 Optimum 15-35 tolerated
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 12 30 Optimum 4-40 tolerated

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A wide range of grazers and other heterotrophic protists appear to be capable of grazing on G. catenatum cells with little apparent impact. Parasites of dinoflagellates (e.g. Amoebophyra) are known, although little is known about specific pathogens and parasites of G. catenatum. Algicidal bacteria have been described that attack G. catenatum and other gymnodinoid cells (e.g. Lovejoy et al., 1998); however, at this stage, the mechanisms and dynamics of these interactions are not sufficiently understood to be exploited as a form of biological control.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Blooms of G. catenatum populations appear to be confined to coastal areas and/or continental shelves, therefore long-range dispersal across oceanic basins and boundaries appears unlikely over human timescales. However, once established on a coastline, gradual dispersal of blooms or resting cysts via coastal currents appears inevitable.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Planktonic cells are fragile and unlikely to survive longer than several days without light, and are killed by anoxia or sustained temperatures of 35°C or more. Resting cysts are more robust and may survive temperatures of up to 45-50°C for short periods (Bolch and Hallegraeff, 1993), are unaffected by anoxia, and survive potentially several years without light. Therefore, transport of resting cysts presents the biggest risk vector transmission. Longer range (100s of kilometres) secondary dispersal by shipping, recreational or other vessels is possible, and is the suspected vector for dispersal from southern Tasmania to Port Lincoln, South Australia, between port environments (see Bolch and Salas, 2007). Any activity that transfers untreated seawater at ambient temperature (10-20°C) or marine sediment at temperatures between 4.0 to 45°C, to unaffected marine environments has the potential to spread G. catenatum. For example, cells or cysts may be dispersed by contaminated marine equipment such as dredges and fishing gear, commercial shellfish or other marine animals and fauna. Given the relative hardiness of resting cysts, dispersal by birds or flying insects (Proctor, 1966) is also possible, but as yet not investigated for dinoflagellate cysts.

Accidental Introduction

The few cases of suspected introduction (i.e. for which evidence is available) indicate introduction has been accidental and likely to be ballast-water-mediated (Bolch and Salas, 2007).

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Human health Negative

Economic Impact

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The primary impact of G. catenatum is due to its role in paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), a neurotoxic poisoning syndrome which affects human consumers of contaminated shellfish. Shellfish contamination by PSP affects thousands of people per year on a worldwide basis and the economic costs of harmful algal blooms in the United States alone are in excess of 50 million dollars annually (Hoagland et al., 2002). In Australia, the direct costs (toxin and plankton monitoring) of PSP contamination of shellfish exceed 1 million Australian dollars per year. Human heath associated costs are relatively low due to extensive seafood toxin and phytoplankton monitoring programs in many affected countries. Human poisonings are therefore rare. Indirect costs to the shellfish industries are difficult to estimate, but include loss of income and markets due to harvest closures and the “halo effect” of reduced confidence in shellfish and other seafood products.

Environmental Impact

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Environmental impacts of G. catenatum are largely unknown. 

Impact on Biodiversity

Impacts of G. catenatum on plankton biodiversity are largely unknown although competitive exclusion or dominance effects (leading to reduced diversity) are likely to occur during bloom events.

Social Impact

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Social impacts in developed countries are primarily reduction or loss of shellfish industries and associated employment during extended periods of harvest closure due to PST contamination. For example, some heavily affected areas of southern Tasmania (e.g. Huon Estuary) appear to no longer be commercially viable areas for oyster and/or mussel production due to the risk of extended periods of closure due to PST contamination. Human health impacts (intoxication and/or death) from G. catenatum-induced shellfish poisoning events can be much more severe in less developed areas that lack extensive toxin and phytoplankton monitoring.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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No economic value except for potential to harvest material for production of phycotoxin (PST) standards (a limited market but a high value product).

Detection and Inspection

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Detection in the environment or in ballast water currently relies on water/sediment collection and concentration, followed by microscopic analysis for the planktonic cell and resting stages. Molecular detection approaches for the G. catenatum have been attempted (Bolch, 2001; Patil et al., 2005), including quantitative PCR detection and enumeration (J Patil, CSIRO Marine Research, Australia, personal communication), but none have reached the stage of commercial deployment as of April 2011 (M. de Salas, University of Tasmania, Australia, personal communication, 2011).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Cells of G. catenatum can be distinguished from the related microreticulate species by cell size and chain formation. Cells of G. microreticulatum (Bolch et al., 1999) and G. trapeziforme (Attaran-Fariman et al., 2007) do not form chains and the cells are considerably smaller; G. nolleri is also much smaller and forms chains of only 2 cells (Ellegaard et al., 1993). Attaran-Fariman et al. (2007) give a detailed description of features separating the species in the group. G. catenatum may also be confused with other chain-forming species, especially in fixed samples due to poor preservation of fine cell structure (e.g. Lugol’s iodine and formalin).

Careful examination of the size and form of live individual cells in chains is recommended to distinguish G. catenatum from the superficially similar chain-forming species Cochlodinium polykrikoides, Cochlodinium catenatum and Gymnodinium impudicum. Cochlodinium species can be distinguished by the presence of a girdle that encircles the cell one and a half times or more. G. impudicum is much smaller with a more rounded cell outline, and usually only forms chains of 4 or 8 cells, often embedded in a substantial layer of exopolymer material (Fraga et al., 1995).

Cysts of the related species G. nolleri and G. microreticulatum are spherical and similarly reticulated but significantly smaller (17-30 µm and 30-40 µm, respectively (Bolch and Reynolds, 2002)). Individual or fragmented specimens are easily confused with G. catenatum due to similar colour and reticulation and overlapping size ranges, therefore it is imperative that identity be confirmed by germination (if possible), or by examination of a number of specimens to establish the size range and mean diameter.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Prevention

The primary form of long range dispersal is thought to be through uptake and transit of resting cysts in cargo vessel ballast water (Hallegraeff and Bolch, 1992). To combat this vector a number of voluntary measures and international guidelines have been implemented by the international shipping industry (International Maritime Organisation (IMO)) to limit the uptake, transport across oceanic basins, and release of large quantities of viable organisms in ballast water (see Gollasch et al., 2007 for details). A variety of treatment options for ballast water are currently being investigated. Filtration to remove organisms >25 µm is potentially achievable (Cangelosi et al., 2007) and may reduce the concentration of G. catenatum resting cysts in discharged ballast; however, considerably more research is required before this approach is taken up on a larger scale. Treatment of ballast water with biocides or other chemicals is either ineffective or not economically feasible at effective concentrations (Bolch and Hallegraeff, 1993; Gregg and Hallegraeff, 2007). There are also serious safety and/or corrosion issues associated with the practical application of biocides on vessels (Gollasch et al., 2007).

Eradication

Eradication of established populations is not currently feasible or achievable.

Containment/zoning

Local containment does not appear to be feasible. Institution of measures controlling shellfish transfers and managing ballast water movement/discharge (Gollasch et al. 2007) may reduce the risk of primary intercontinental or secondary transfer within regions.

Control

Movement control

See comments under Containment/zoning.

Biological control

Biological control methods for phytoplankton species are currently not feasible, and too little is known of pathogen/parasite interactions to devise specific control strategies.

Chemical control

Chemical control is not feasible as it is impossible to confine the effects of any chemical application specifically to G. catenatum.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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The bulk of available published research on G. catenatum is confined to populations in northwest Spain, and the introduced Australian populations, and to a lesser extent, the populations of southern Japan. Considerably more information is required from a wider range of regional populations to begin to understand the biogeography and dispersal of this species. Sediment dating studies of resting cysts from a range of affected areas would allow a better appraisal of the introduced or native status of particular populations. Considerably more basic biological and ecological and genetic information on this species may allow improved detection and understanding of factors controlling bloom initiation and decline, and the development/control of cellular toxicity.

References

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Amorim A; Dale B, 2006. Historical cyst record as evidence for the recent introduction of the dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum in the north-eastern Atlantic. Afr. J Mar. Sci, 28:193-198.

Anderson DM; Jacobson D; Bravo I; Wrenn JH, 1988. The unique, microreticulate cyst of the naked dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum Graham. J. Phycol, 24:255-262.

Anton A; Mohamad-Noor N, 1996. Harmful algal bloom (HAB) species in the straits of Melaka, Malaysia. In: Abstracts of the NATO-ASI workshop.

Attaran-Fariman G; Salas MF de; Negri AP; Bolch CJS, 2007. Morphology and phylogenetic affinities of Gymnodinium trapeziforme sp. nov. (Dinophyceae): A new dinoflagellate from the southeast coast of Iran that forms microreticulate resting cysts. Phycologia, 46:644-656.

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19/12/07 Original text by:

Christopher Bolch, University of Tasmania, Australia

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