Marine Drugs (Jul 2020)

De novo Transcriptome of the Non-saxitoxin Producing <i>Alexandrium tamutum</i> Reveals New Insights on Harmful Dinoflagellates

  • Giorgio Maria Vingiani,
  • Dārta Štālberga,
  • Pasquale De Luca,
  • Adrianna Ianora,
  • Daniele De Luca,
  • Chiara Lauritano

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18, no. 386
p. 386


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Many dinoflagellates species, especially of the Alexandrium genus, produce a series of toxins with tremendous impacts on human and environmental health, and tourism economies. Alexandrium tamutum was discovered for the first time in the Gulf of Naples, and it is not known to produce saxitoxins. However, a clone of A. tamutum from the same Gulf showed copepod reproduction impairment and antiproliferative activity. In this study, the full transcriptome of the dinoflagellate A. tamutum is presented in both control and phosphate starvation conditions. RNA-seq approach was used for in silico identification of transcripts that can be involved in the synthesis of toxic compounds. Phosphate starvation was selected because it is known to induce toxin production for other Alexandrium spp. Results showed the presence of three transcripts related to saxitoxin synthesis (sxtA, sxtG and sxtU), and others potentially related to the synthesis of additional toxic compounds (e.g., 44 transcripts annotated as “polyketide synthase”). These data suggest that even if this A. tamutum clone does not produce saxitoxins, it has the potential to produce toxic metabolites, in line with the previously observed activity. These data give new insights into toxic microalgae, toxin production and their potential applications for the treatment of human pathologies.