sxtA4+ and sxtA4- Genotypes Occur Together within Natural Pyrodinium bahamense Sub-Populations from the Western Atlantic
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Type of Work15 pages
Citation of Original PublicationCusick, Kathleen; Duran, Gabriel; sxtA4+ and sxtA4- Genotypes Occur Together within Natural Pyrodinium bahamense Sub-Populations from the Western Atlantic; Microorganisms 2021, 9(6), 1128; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9061128
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Saxitoxin (STX) is a secondary metabolite and potent neurotoxin produced by several genera of harmful algal bloom (HAB) marine dinoflagellates. The basis for variability in STX production within natural bloom populations is undefined as both toxic and non-toxic strains (of the same species) have been isolated from the same geographic locations. Pyrodinium bahamense is a STX-producing bioluminescent dinoflagellate that blooms along the east coast of Florida as well as the bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico (PR), though no toxicity reports exist for PR populations. The core genes in the dinoflagellate STX biosynthetic pathway have been identified, and the sxtA4 gene is essential for toxin production. Using sxtA4 as a molecular proxy for the genetic capacity of STX production, we examined sxtA4+ and sxtA4- genotype frequency at the single cell level in P. bahamense populations from different locations in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), FL, and Mosquito Bay (MB), a bioluminescent bay in PR. Multiplex PCR was performed on individual cells with Pyrodinium-specific primers targeting the 18S rRNA gene and sxtA4. The results reveal that within discrete natural populations of P. bahamense, both sxtA4+ and sxtA4- genotypes occur, and the sxtA4+ genotype dominates. In the IRL, the frequency of the sxtA4+ genotype ranged from ca. 80–100%. In MB, sxtA4+ genotype frequency ranged from ca 40–66%. To assess the extent of sxtA4 variation within individual cells, sxtA4 amplicons from single cells representative of the different sampling sites were cloned and sequenced. Overall, two variants were consistently obtained, one of which is likely a pseudogene based on alignment with cDNA sequences. These are the first data demonstrating the existence of both genotypes in natural P. bahamense sub-populations, as well as sxtA4 presence in P. bahamense from PR. These results provide insights on underlying genetic factors influencing the potential for toxin variability among natural sub-populations of HAB species and highlight the need to study the genetic diversity within HAB sub-populations at a fine level in order to identify the molecular mechanisms driving HAB evolution.
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