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Effect of temperature and salinity on the growth and cell size of the first cultures of Gymnodinium aureolum from the Black Sea

Manuel Sala-Pérez, Anne E. Lockyer, Alexandre Anesio and Suzanne A. G. Leroy
From the journal Botanica Marina


Algal blooms are natural phenomena that may cause human health problems, millions of dollars in losses and ecological disasters worldwide. Anthropogenic pressures like eutrophication may increase the frequency and intensity of these phenomena. The Black Sea is characterized by rapid changes in salinity and temperature in surface waters. In addition, it has suffered increasing environmental pressure from human activities. This work presents the first cultures of Gymnodinium aureolum to be isolated from the Black Sea. Morphological and phylogenetic analyses confirmed our strain as G. aureolum. The effects of temperature and salinity on growth were tested in experiments combining two temperatures and five salinities in 10 experimental treatments. This provides baseline data on the physiological adaption and acclimatization potential of the species to bloom under present and future climatic scenarios in the Black Sea. Gymnodinium aureolum grew exponentially in all experimental treatments, except for cultures at salinity 5. Growth rate increased significantly with increasing temperature reaching the maximum at 20 °C and salinity 15 (0.38 ± 0.02 d−1). This suggests an adaptation to the salinity and temperature of Black Sea waters and, together with previous records of G. aureolum in both water and sediments, supports the idea that this may be a bloom-forming population of G. aureolum.

Corresponding author: Manuel Sala-Pérez, School of Geographical Sciences and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK; and Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, Katajanokanlaituri 6 B, 00160Helsinki, Finland, E-mail:

Funding source: H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Award Identifier / Grant number: 642973

Funding source: Wolfson College, University of Oxford


We would like to thank Dr. Silviu Radan and Dr. Ana Bianca Pavel from the GeoEcoMar team for helping with the organization and sampling collection during the fieldwork in the Black Sea. We thank Dr. Stuart Bellamy, Dr. Simon Cobb, Dr. Fotis Sgouridis and Dr. James Williams from the University of Bristol for their technical assistance during the lab culture work. The authors gratefully acknowledge the Wolfson Bioimaging Facility for their support and assistance in this work, especially to Judith Mantell, Chris Neal and Sally Hobson.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: The authors would like to thank the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Innovative Training Network 2015–2019 Drivers of Pontocaspian Biodiversity Rise and Demise (PRIDE) under the Marie Sklodowska–Curie Grant Agreement No. 642973 for funding and supporting this research.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.


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Received: 2020-12-02
Accepted: 2021-04-13
Published Online: 2021-04-30
Published in Print: 2021-06-25

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