Toxicon : official journal of the International Society on Toxinology

Susceptibility of gametes and embryos of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, to Karenia brevis and its toxins.

PMID 25771241


The bivalve mollusc, Crassostrea virginica, is frequently exposed to blooms of Karenia brevis along the west coast of Florida during periods of spawning and early larval development. A continuous 4-day exposure of gametes and 2-4 cell stage embryos of C. virginica to whole-cell and culture filtrate of K. brevis at 500 and 5000 cells mL(-1), was followed by a 4-day 'recovery' period. Larval growth, percent of normal, abnormal and dead larvae, and the presence of food in the larval gut were measured throughout the exposure period. Results suggest that negative effects mainly occur during embryogenesis and early development. Damage to feeding apparatus/gut may occur during embryonic development or exposure to toxins may act as a feeding deterrent on non-toxic algae. Following 2-h in vitro exposure of gametes, differences in oocyte and sperm cell parameters were investigated using flow cytometry. The reduced sperm viability in the whole-cell 5000 cells mL(-1) treatment suggests the involvement of extracellular brevetoxins (PbTx) and perhaps other harmful, uncharacterized compounds associated with the K. brevis cell membrane. The cumulative effects of reduced sperm viability, fertilization success, embryonic and larval survival, and the near-annual exposure to blooms of K. brevis could cause significant bottlenecks on oyster recruitment.