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Culturing Toxic Benthic Blooms: The Fate of Natural Biofilms in a Microcosm System

CNR-IRSA, National Research Council, Water Research Institute, Area della Ricerca di Roma 1, Monterotondo Stazione, Rome 00015, Italy
CNR–IAMC, National Research Council, Institute for Coastal Marine Environment, Località Sa Mardini, Torregrande, Oristano 09170, Italy
LBA-Laboratory for Biology of Algae, Department of Biology, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome 00133, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Microorganisms 2017, 5(3), 46;
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 31 July 2017 / Accepted: 2 August 2017 / Published: 6 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxic Cyanobacteria and Toxic Dinoflagellates)
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A microcosm designed for culturing aquatic phototrophic biofilms on artificial substrata was used to perform experiments with microphytobenthos sampled during summer toxic outbreaks of Ostreopsis cf. ovata along the Middle Tyrrhenian coast. This dynamic approach aimed at exploring the unique and complex nature of O. cf. ovata bloom development in the benthic system. Epibenthic assemblages were used as inocula for co-cultures of bloom organisms on polycarbonate slides at controlled environmental conditions. Biofilm surface adhesion, growth, and spatial structure were evaluated along with shifts in composition and matrix production in a low disturbance regime, simulating source habitat. Initial adhesion and substratum colonisation appeared as stochastic processes, then community structure and physiognomy markedly changed with time. Dominance of filamentous cyanobacteria and diatoms, and dense clusters of Amphidinium cf. carterae at the mature biofilm phases, were recorded by light and confocal microscopy, whilst O. cf. ovata growth was visibly limited in the late culture phases. Life-form strategies, competitiveness for resources, and possibly allelopathic interactions shaped biofilm structure during culture growth. HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) analysis of exopolysaccharidic matrix revealed variations in sugar total amounts and composition. No toxic compounds were detected in the final communities tested by LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry) and MALDI-TOF MS (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time OF Flight Mass Spectroscopy) techniques. View Full-Text
Keywords: benthic harmful algal blooms (BHABs); benthic dinoflagellates; Ostreopsis cf. ovata; biofilm cultures; confocal microscopy benthic harmful algal blooms (BHABs); benthic dinoflagellates; Ostreopsis cf. ovata; biofilm cultures; confocal microscopy

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Di Pippo, F.; Congestri, R. Culturing Toxic Benthic Blooms: The Fate of Natural Biofilms in a Microcosm System. Microorganisms 2017, 5, 46.

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