Thermal Responses of Growth and Toxin Production in Four Prorocentrum Species from the Central Red Sea

  • Arwa Aynousah

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Harmful algae studies, in particular toxic dinoflagellates, and their response to global warming in the Red Sea are still limited. This study was aimed to be the first to characterize the identity, thermal responses and toxin production of four Prorocentrum strains isolated from the Central Red Sea, Saudi Arabia. Morphological and molecular phylogenetic analysis identified the strains as P. elegans, P. rhathymum and P. emarginatum. However, the identity of strain P. sp.6 is currently unresolved, albeit sharing close affinity with P. leve. Growth experiments showed that all species could grow at 24-32°C, but only P. sp.6 survived the 34°C treatment. The optimum temperatures (Topt) estimated from the Gaussian model corresponded to 27.17, 29.33, 26.87, and 27.64°C for P. sp.6, P. elegans, P. rhathymum and P. emarginatum, respectively. However, some discrepancy with the Topt derived from the growth performance were observed for P. elegans and P. emarginatum, as thermal responses differed from the typical Gaussian fit. The Prorocentrum species examined showed a sharp decrease after the optimum temperature resulting in very high activation energies for the fall slope, especially for P. elegans and P. emarginatum. The minimum critical temperature limit for growth was not detected within the range of temperatures examined. Subsequently, high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) analysis revealed all species as non okadaic acid (OA, common toxin of the Prorocentrum genus) producers at any temperature treatment. However, other forms of toxin (i.e. fast acting toxins) not examined here could be produced. Therefore, further investigations are required. The results of this study provided significant contribution to our knowledge regarding the presence, thermal response and toxin production of four Prorocentrum species from the Central Red Sea, Saudi Arabia.
Date of AwardJun 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorSusana Agusti (Supervisor)


  • Prorocentrum
  • Harmful algae
  • Dinoflagellates
  • Okadaic Acid

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