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Development, calibration, and evaluation of a model of Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid production for regional ocean modeling studies.

  • Moreno, Allison R
  • Anderson, Clarissa
  • Kudela, Raphael M
  • Sutula, Martha
  • Edwards, Christopher
  • Bianchi, Daniele
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2022
eScholarship - University of California
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Pseudo-nitzschia species are one of the leading causes of harmful algal blooms (HABs) along the western coast of the United States. Approximately half of known Pseudo-nitzschia strains can produce domoic acid (DA), a neurotoxin that can negatively impact wildlife and fisheries and put human life at risk through amnesic shellfish poisoning. Production and accumulation of DA, a secondary metabolite synthesized during periods of low primary metabolism, is triggered by environmental stressors such as nutrient limitation. To quantify and estimate the feedbacks between DA production and environmental conditions, we designed a simple mechanistic model of Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid dynamics, which we validate against batch and chemostat experiments. Our results suggest that, as nutrients other than nitrogen (i.e., silicon, phosphorus, and potentially iron) become limiting, DA production increases. Under Si limitation, we found an approximate doubling in DA production relative to N limitation. Additionally, our model indicates a positive relationship between light and DA production. These results support the idea that the relationship with nutrient limitation and light is based on direct impacts on Pseudo-nitzschia biosynthesis and biomass accumulation. Because it can easily be embedded within existing coupled physical-ecosystem models, our model represents a step forward toward modeling the occurrence of Pseudo-nitzschia HABs and DA across the U.S. West Coast.

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