Revista de Biología Tropical ISSN Impreso: 0034-7744 ISSN electrónico: 2215-2075

Morphological and molecular characterization of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata (Dinophyta) from Brazil (South Atlantic Ocean)


Benthic Dinophyta
epiphytic microalgae
harmful algal blooms
red tides
South Atlantic Ocean
toxic Dinoflagellata
Atlántico Sur
Dinofita béntica
Dinoflagellata tóxica
proliferación algal dañina
mareas rojas
microalga epifita

How to Cite

Gómez, F., Qiu, D., Lopes, R. M., & Lin, S. (2017). Morphological and molecular characterization of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata (Dinophyta) from Brazil (South Atlantic Ocean). Revista De Biología Tropical, 65(3), 1022–1032.


Ostreopsis cf. ovata is a toxic epiphytic dinoflagellate widely distributed in warm waters that often co-occur with species of the genera Coolia, Fukuyoa, Gambierdiscus and Prorocentrum. We investigated a strain isolated from the coast of Ubatuba, Brazil (South-West Atlantic Ocean) by light and epifluorescence microscopies; we also report molecular data based on the LSU rDNA and ITS markers. Cells were 35-65 µm in the dorso-ventral diameter and 20-40 µm wide. We obtained the sequence of a ~1900 base pair region of the rRNA gene cistron. In the LSU rDNA phylogeny, the sequences under the names O. ovata and O. cf. ovata branched into three clades. The ITS marker showed greater resolving power and the sequences of O. ovata/O. cf. ovata split into five clades. Our ITS sequence branched in a clade with sequences of strains from the Mediterranean Sea, European Atlantic coasts, subtropical NE Atlantic, other sequences from Brazil at Rio de Janeiro, and a few sequences from Japan. The cell dimensions and thecal plate arrangement were under the variability range reported in other ocean regions. Our observations confirm O. cf. ovata as the most commonly recorded species of Ostreopsis in the SW Atlantic Ocean. Ostreopsis cf. ovata co-occurred with Coolia malayensis in Brazil and Asia, but it has been commonly reported from the Mediterranean Sea, where C. malayensis has not yet been recorded; while Coolia malayensis has been reported from the Caribbean Sea, but not O. ovata. With the current knowledge, it is difficult to understand the factors that determine the biogeography of the tropical epiphytic dinoflagellates.


Accoroni, S., Romagnoli, T., Penna, A., Capellacci, S., Ciminiello, P., Dell’Aversano, C., Tartaglione, L., Abboud-Abi Saab, M., Giussani, V., Asnaghi, V., Chiantore, M., & Totti, C. (2017). Ostreopsis fattorussoi sp. nov. (Dinophyceae), a new benthic toxic Ostreopsis species from the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Phycology, doi: 10.1111/jpy.12464

Accoroni, S., Romagnoli, T., Pichierri, S., Colombo, F., & Totti, C. (2012). Morphometric analysis of Ostreopsis cf. ovata cells in relation to environmental conditions and bloom phases. Harmful Algae, 19, 15-22.

Aligizaki, K., & Nikolaidis, G. (2006). The presence of the potentially toxic genera Ostreopsis and Coolia (Dinophyceae) in the North Aegean Sea, Greece. Harmful Algae, 5, 717-730.

Al-Yamani, F. Y., & Saburova, M. A. (2010). Illustrated Guide on the Flagellates of Kuwait’s Intertidal Soft Sediments. Kuwait: Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.

Ashton, M., Tosteson, T., & Tosteson, C. (2003). The effect of elevated temperature on the toxicity of the laboratory cultured dinoflagellate Ostreopsis lenticularis (Dinophyceae). Revista de Biología Tropical, 51(Suppl. 4), 1-6.

Carnicer, O., Guallar, C., Andree, K. B., Diogène, J., & Fernández-Tejedor, M. (2015). Ostreopsis cf. ovata dynamics in the NW Mediterranean Sea in relation to biotic and abiotic factors. Environmental Research, 143, 89-99.

Chang, F. H., Shimizu, Y., Hay, B., Stewart, R., Mackay, G., & Tasker, R. (2000). Three recently recorded Ostreopsis spp. (Dinophyceae) in New Zealand: temporal and regional distribution in the upper North Island from 1995 to 1997. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 34(1), 29-39.

David, H., Laza-Martínez, A., Miguel, I., & Orive, E. (2013). Ostreopsis cf. siamensis and Ostreopsis cf. ovata from the Atlantic Iberian Peninsula: Morphological and phylogenetic characterization. Harmful Algae, 30, 44-55.

David, H., Laza-Martínez, A., Miguel, I., & Orive, E. (2014). Broad distribution of Coolia monotis and restricted distribution of Coolia cf. canariensis (Dinophyceae) on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Phycologia, 53(4), 342-352.

Delgado, G., Lechuga-Devéze, C. H., Popowski, G., Troccoli, L., & Salinas, C. A. (2006). Epiphytic dinoflagellates associated with ciguatera in the northwestern coast of Cuba. Revista de Biología Tropical, 54(2), 299-310.

Faust, M. A. (1999). Three new Ostreopsis species (Dinophyceae): O. marinus sp. nov., O. belizeanus sp. nov., and O. caribbeanus sp. nov. Phycologia, 38(2), 92-99.

Faust, M. A., & Morton, S. L. (1995). Morphology and ecology of the marine dinoflagellate Ostreopsis labens sp. nov. (Dinophyceae). Journal of Phycology, 31(3), 456-463.

Fukuyo, Y. (1981). Taxonomical study on benthic dinoflagellates collected in coral reefs. Bulletin of the Japanese Society of Scientific Fisheries, 47(8), 967-978.

Gamboa-Márquez, J. F., Sánchez-Suárez, I. G., & La Barbera-Sánchez, A. (1994). Dinoflagelados (Pyrrophyta) del Archipiélago Los Roques (Venezuela): Familias Prorocentraceae y Ostreopsidaceae. Acta Científica Venezolana, 45(2), 140-152.

Gómez, F., Qiu, D., Lopes, R. M., & Lin, S. (2015). Fukuyoa paulensis gen. et sp. nov., a new genus for the globular species of the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus (Dinophyceae). PLoS ONE, 10(4), e0119676.

Gómez, F., Qiu, D., Otero-Morales, E., Lopes, R. M., & Lin, S. (2016). Circumtropical distribution of the epiphytic dinoflagellate Coolia malayensis (Dinophyceae): Morphology and molecular phylogeny from Puerto Rico and Brazil. Phycological Research, 64(3), 194-199.

Hariganeya, N., Tanimoto, Y., Yamaguchi, H., Nishimura, T., Tawong, W., Sakanari, H. Yoshimatsu, T., Sato, S., Preston, C. M., & Adachi, M. (2013). Quantitative PCR method for enumeration of cells of cryptic species of the toxic marine dinoflagellate Ostreopsis spp. in coastal waters of Japan. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e57627.

Hernández-Becerril, D. U. & Almazán Becerril, A. (2004). Especies de dinoflagelados del género Gambierdiscus (Dinophyceae) del Mar Caribe mexicano. Revista de Biología Tropical, 52(Suppl. 1), 77-87.

Larkin, M. A., Blackshields, G., Brown, N. P., Chenna, R., McGettigan, P. A., McWilliam, H., Valentin, F., Wallace, I. M., Wilm, A., López, R., Thompson, J .D., Gibson, T. J., & Higgins, D. G. (2007). CLUSTALW and CLUSTALX version 2.0. Bioinformatics, 23(21), 2947-2948.

Larsen, J., & Nguyen, N. L. (2004). Potentially toxic microalgae of Vietnamese waters. Opera Botanica, 140, 5-216.

Leaw, C. P., Lim, P. T., Ahmad, A., & Usup, G. (2001). Genetic diversity of Ostreopsis ovata (Dinophyceae) from Malaysia. Marine Biotechnology, 3(3), 246-255.

Monti, M., Minocci, M., Beron, A., & Ivesa, L. (2007). First record of Ostreopsis cf. ovata on macroalgae in the Northern Adriatic Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 54(5), 598-601.

Miranda, L. N., Zhang, H., Zhuang, Y., & Lin, S. (2012). Phylogenetic analysis guided by intragenomic SSU rDNA polymorphism refines classification of “Alexandrium tamarense” species complex. Harmful Algae, 16, 35-48.

Nascimento, S. M., Corrêa, E. V., Menezes, M., Varela, D., Paredes, J., & Morris, S. (2012a). Growth and toxin profile of Ostreopsis cf. ovata (Dinophyta) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Harmful Algae, 13, 1-9.

Nascimento, S. M., França, J. V., Gonçalves, J. E. A., & Ferreira, C. E. L. (2012b). Ostreopsis cf. ovata (Dinophyta) bloom in an equatorial island of the Atlantic Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 64(5), 1074-1078.

Norris, D. R., Bomber, J. W., & Balech, E. (1985). Benthic dinoflagellates associated with ciguatera from the Florida Keys. I. Ostreopsis heptagona sp. nov. In D. M. Anderson, A. W. White, & D. G. Baden (Eds.), Toxic Dinoflagellates (pp. 39-44). New York: Elsevier.

Parsons, M. L., Aligizaki, K., Dechraoui, M. Y., Fraga, S., Morton, S., Penna, A., & Rhodes, L. (2012). Gambierdiscus and Ostreopsis: reassessment of the state of knowledge of their taxonomy, geography, ecophysiology, and toxicology. Harmful Algae, 14, 107-129.

Penna, A., Fraga, S., Battocchi, C., Casabianca, S., Riobó, P., Giacobbe, M. G., & Vernesi, C. (2010). A phylogeography study of the toxic benthic dinoflagellate genus Ostreopsis Schmidt. Journal of Biogeography, 37(5), 830-841.

Penna, A., Vila, M., Fraga, S., Giacobbe, M. G., Andreoni, F., Riobó, P., & Vernesi, C. (2005). Characterization of Ostreopsis and Coolia (Dinophyceae) isolates in the western Mediterranean Sea based on morphology, toxicity and internal transcribed spacer 5.8S rDNA sequences. Journal of Phycology, 41(1), 212-225.

Posada, D., & Crandall, K. A. (1998). MODELTEST: testing the model of DNA substitution. Bioinformatics, 14(9), 817-818.

Qiu, D., Huang, L., Liu, S., & Lin, S. (2011). Nuclear, mitochondrial and plastid gene phylogenies of Dinophysis miles (Dinophyceae): Evidence of variable types of chloroplasts. PLoS ONE, 6(12), e29398.

Qiu, D., Huang, L., Liu, S., Zhang, H., & Lin, S. (2013). Apical groove type and molecular phylogeny suggests reclassification of Cochlodinium geminatum as Polykrikos geminatum. PLoS ONE, 8(8), e71346.

Quod, J. P. (1994). Ostreopsis mascarenensis sp. nov. (Dinophyceae), dinoflagellé toxique associé à la ciguatera dans l’Océan Indien. Cryptogamie Algologie, 15(4), 243-251.

Rossi, R., Castellano, V., Scalco, E., Serpe, L., Zingone, A., & Soprano, V. (2010). New palytoxin-like molecules in Mediterranean Ostreopsis cf. ovata (dinoflagellates) and in Palythoa tuberculosa detected by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Toxicon, 56(8), 1381-1387.

Sato, S., Nishimura, T., Uehara, K., Sakanari, H., Tawong, W., Hariganeya, N., Smith, K., Rhodes, L., Yasumoto, T., Taira, Y., Suda, S., Yamaguchi, H., & Adachi, M. (2011). Phylogeography of Ostreopsis along west Pacific coast, with special reference to a novel clade from Japan. PLoS ONE, 6(12), e27983.

Scalco, E., Brunet, C., Marino, F., Rossi, R., Soprano, V., Zingone, A., & Montresor, M. (2012). Growth and toxicity responses of Mediterranean Ostreopsis cf. ovata to seasonal irradiance and temperature conditions. Harmful Algae, 17, 25-34.

Schmidt, J. (1901). Flora of Koh Chang. Contributions to the knowledge of the vegetation in the Gulf of Siam. Peridiniales. Botanisk Tidsskrift, 24, 212-221.

Selina, M. S., & Levchenko, E. V. (2011). Species composition and morphology of Dinoflagellates (Dinophyta) of epiphytic assemblages of Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan. Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 37(1), 23-32.

Tamura, K., Stecher, G., Peterson, D., Filipski, A., & Kumar, S. (2013). MEGA6: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis version 6.0. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 30(12), 2725-2729.

Tindall, D. R., Miller, D. M., & Tindall, P. M. (1990). Toxicity of Ostreopsis lenticularis from the British and United States Virgin Islands. In E. Granéli, B. Sundstrom, L. Edler & D. M. Anderson (Eds.), Toxic Marine Phytoplankton (pp. 424-429). New York: Elsevier.

Tognetto, L., Bellato, S., Moro, I., & Andreoli, C. (1995). Occurrence of Ostreopsis ovata (Dinophyceae) in the Tyrrhenian Sea during summer 1994. Botanica Marina, 38, 291-295.

Tosteson, T. R. (2004). Caribbean ciguatera: a changing paradigm. Revista de Biología Tropical, 52(Suppl. 1), 109-113.

Wang, L., Zhuang, Y., Zhang, H., Lin, X., & Lin, S. (2014). DNA barcoding species in Alexandrium tamarense complex using ITS and proposing designation of five species. Harmful Algae, 31, 100-113.



Download data is not yet available.