Production of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins (PSTs) in toxic alexandrium catenella is intertwined with photosynthesis and energy production

Sirius Pui Kam Tse, Fred Wang Fat Lee, Daniel Yun Lam Mak, Hang Kin Kong, Kenrick Kai Yuen Chan, Pak Yeung Lo, Samuel Chun Lap Lo (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the mechanism for the production of paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) in toxic dinoflagellates, with a 2D-gel based approach, we had made two sets of proteomic comparisons: (a) between a toxic Alexandrium catenella (AC-T) and a phylogenetically closely related non-toxic strain (AC-N), (b) between toxic AC-T grown in a medium with 10% normal amount of phosphate (AC-T-10%P) known to induce higher toxicity and AC-T grown in normal medium. We found that photosynthesis and energy production related proteins were up-regulated in AC-T when compared to AC-N. However, the same group of proteins was down-regulated in AC-T-10%P when compared to normal AC-T. Examining the relationship of photosynthesis and toxin content of AC-T upon continuous photoperiod experiment revealed that while growth and associated toxin content increased after 8 days of continuous light, toxin content maintained constant when cells were shifted from continuous light to continuous dark for 3 days. This emphasized the cruciality of light availability on toxin biosynthesis in AC-T, while another light-independent mechanism may be responsible for higher toxicity in AC-T-10%P compared to normal AC-T. Taken all together, it is believed that the interplay between “illumination”, “photosynthesis”, “phosphate availability”, and “toxin production” is much more complicated than what we had previously anticipated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number477
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Alexandrium catenella
  • Light availability
  • Paralytic shellfish toxins
  • Phosphate limitation
  • Proteomics
  • PSTs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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