Cell Death and Metabolic Stress in Gymnodinium catenatum Induced by Allelopathy

Toxins (Basel). 2021 Jul 20;13(7):506. doi: 10.3390/toxins13070506.


Allelopathy between phytoplankton species can promote cellular stress and programmed cell death (PCD). The raphidophyte Chattonella marina var. marina, and the dinoflagellates Margalefidinium polykrikoides and Gymnodinium impudicum have allelopathic effects on Gymnodinium catenatum; however, the physiological mechanisms are unknown. We evaluated whether the allelopathic effect promotes cellular stress and activates PCD in G. catenatum. Cultures of G. catenatum were exposed to cell-free media of C. marina var. marina, M. polykrikoides and G. impudicum. The mortality, superoxide radical (O2●-) production, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) levels, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, protein content, and caspase-3 activity were quantified. Mortality (between 57 and 79%) was registered in G. catenatum after exposure to cell-free media of the three species. The maximal O2●- production occurred with C. marina var. marina cell-free media. The highest TBARS levels and SOD activity in G. catenatum were recorded with cell-free media from G. impudicum. The highest protein content was recorded with cell-free media from M. polykrikoides. All cell-free media caused an increase in the activity of caspase-3. These results indicate that the allelopathic effect in G. catenatum promotes cell stress and caspase-3 activation, as a signal for the induction of programmed cell death.

Keywords: allelopathy; apoptosis; caspase-3; harmful algae; reactive oxygen species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't