It is becoming more apparent that increased organic nutrient loads deriving from anthropogenic activities and natural processes frequently cause the eutrophication of coastal waters. Concurrently, an increasing number of phototrophs have been shown to make use of organic nutrients, mainly through indirect studies of surface enzyme activities or through direct studies of growth in media containing organic-only nutrients. The potential utilization of dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) by microepiphytic-mats associated with frequently problematic, toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis cf. ovata, was investigated throughout a full cycle of a bloom that occurs annually (over the last few decades) during summer along several stretches of the Mediterranean coast. Measurements of phosphomonoesterase (PMEase) and phosphodiesterase (PDEase) activities of the epiphytic mats (including cells and exopolymeric substances) and a range of chemico-physical parameters were made from late summer to early autumn at a eutrophic site. Analyses of ambient nutrient fractions revealed very high aquatic N:P values (TN:TP = 178 ± 50), very low filterable reactive P (FRP) concentrations (13 out 19 under the limits of detection) and DOP concentrations that were on average 85% of the total dissolved P. We recorded a rapid increase in PMEase and PDEase activities in the epiphytic microalgal community that coincided with the onset of a proliferation of the Ostreopsis population. Chromogenic staining of samples showed that activity was closely associated with the Ostreopsis cells, located both extracellularly (cell surface and within the EPS) and intracellularly (ventral cytoplasm). The increase in both phosphatases indicates that Ostreopsis can utilise a wide range of DOP types. The intense activity in the EPS was suggested to aid in the efficient entrapment and processing of high concentration nutrient pulses, for extracellular processing of larger organic materials and to prevent loss of substrates and products to the surrounding water. Based on the present findings, Ostreopsis seems to have adaptations that allow it to thrive in P-limited environments where organic P is the main source of P.
Accoroni, S., Totti, C., Razza, E., Congestri, R., Campanelli, A., Marini, M., et al. (2017). Phosphatase activities of a microepiphytic community during a bloom of Ostreopsis cf. ovata in the northern Adriatic Sea. WATER RESEARCH, 120, 272-279 [10.1016/j.watres.2017.05.004].