Mortality and histopathology in sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus) larvae exposed to pectenotoxin-2 and Dinophysis acuminata

Toxic species of the dinoflagellate genus Dinophysis can produce diarrheic toxins including okadaic acid (OA) and dinophysistoxins (DTXs), and the non-diarrheic pectenotoxins (PTXs). Okadaic acid and DTXs cause diarrheic shellfish poisoning (DSP) in human consumers, and also cause cytotoxic, immunotoxic and genotoxic effects in a variety of mollusks and fishes at different life stages in vitro. The possible effects of co-produced PTXs or live cells of Dinophysis to aquatic organisms, however, are less understood. Effects on an early life stage of sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus), a common finfish in eastern USA estuaries, were evaluated using a 96-h toxicity bioassay. Three-week old larvae were exposed to PTX2 concentrations from 50 to 4000 nM, live Dinophysis acuminata culture (strain DAVA01), live cells resuspended in clean medium or culture filtrate. This D. acuminata strain produced mainly intracellular PTX2 (≈ 21 pg cell−1), with much lower levels of OA and dinophysistoxin-1.

No mortality or gill damages were observed in larvae exposed to D. acuminata (from 5 to 5500 cells mL−1), resuspended cells and culture filtrate. However, exposure to purified PTX2 at intermediate to high concentrations (from 250 to 4000 nM) resulted in 8 to 100% mortality after 96 h (24-h LC50 of 1231 nM). Histopathology and transmission electron microscopy of fish exposed to intermediate to high PTX2 concentrations revealed important gill damage, including intercellular edema, necrosis and sloughing of gill respiratory epithelia, and damage to the osmoregulatory epithelium, including hypertrophy, proliferation, redistribution and necrosis of chloride cells. Tissue damage in gills is likely caused by the interaction of PTX2 with the actin cytoskeleton of the affected gill epithelia. Overall, the severe gill pathology observed following the PTX2 exposure suggested death was due to loss of respiratory and osmoregulatory functions in C. variegatus larvae.


Dinoflagellate, Fish, Gills, Harmful algal bloom, Histopathology, Pectenotoxin, Dinophysis

Full Text

Author's final draft
421 Mo
Publisher's official version
96 Mo
How to cite
Gaillard Sylvain, Réveillon Damien, Mason P.L., Ayache Nour, Sanderson M., Smith J.L., Giddings S., McCarron P., Séchet Veronique, Hégaret Helene, Hess Philipp, Vogelbein W.K. (2023). Mortality and histopathology in sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus) larvae exposed to pectenotoxin-2 and Dinophysis acuminata. Aquatic Toxicology. 257. 106456 (9p.).,

Copy this text