Molecular and phytochemical investigations of the harmful, bloom-forming alga, Prymnesium parvum Carter (Haptophyta)
This dissertation includes molecular and phytochemical investigations of the harmful, bloom-forming alga, Prymnesium parvum, including analysis of known polyketide metabolites as a function of salinity and growth. Initially, the development of molecular and phytochemical tools was necessary for the detection and quantification of P. parvum and its associated toxins. Suites of oligonucleotides and molecular beacons were designed for conventional and quantitative multiplex PCR to amplify four species- and gene-specific products simultaneously that were used for the detection and quantitation of P. parvum. This built-in redundancy provided increased confidence in reactions with the positive confirmation of four discrete products. Techniques were also developed for the chemical enrichment of toxins produced by P. parvum. Until now, isolation of “prymnesins” has never been reproduced. Polyketide prymnesins possess unique spectral properties that were used to generate an LC-MS fingerprint that comprised 13 ion species. Preliminary investigations using chemifluorimetric methods were also capable of detecting prymnesins in the pico- and nano-molar range. Environmental samples were tested as an independent assessment of these methods. Lastly, the roles of polyketide prymnesins were analyzed with respect to total hemolytic activity (HA) as a function of culture age and salinity. Variation in HA of supernatants was statistically significant relative to both variables (p << 0.05). Salinity was inversely related to HA wherein cultures growing in 5-25 psu were 150-200% more hemolytic. Total HA was inversely related to culture age during the first three weeks, but positively related to it during the next three weeks. Interestingly, no hemolysis was detected in fractions containing prymnesins from culture supernatants and the majority of hemolysins remained in the aqueous phase. Prymnesins extracted from cells varied significantly over the 6-week observation period (p << 0.05); HA was positively correlated during the first half and inversely related during the last half of the study. Salinity was directly related to HA from cell extracts, but these effects were not significantly different until the last three weeks. These investigations suggest that polyketide prymnesins are present at much lower quantities than previously believed, and they may not be the key compounds associated with hemolysis due to P. parvum.