Germination fluctuation of toxic Alexandrium fundyense and A. pacificum cysts and the relationship with bloom occurrences in Kesennuma Bay, Japan

Masafumi Natsuike, Katsuhide Yokoyama, Goh Nishitani, Yuichiro Yamada, Ikuo Yoshinaga, Akira Ishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


While cyst germination may be an important factor for the initiation of harmful/toxic blooms, assessments of the fluctuation in phytoplankton cyst germination, from bottom sediments to water columns, are rare in situ due to lack of technology that can detect germinated cells in natural bottom sediments. This study introduces a simple mesocosm method, modeled after previous in situ methods, to measure the germination of plankton resting stage cells. Using this method, seasonal changes in germination fluxes of toxic dinoflagellates resting cysts, specifically Alexandrium fundyense (A. tamarense species complex Group I) and A. pacificum (A. tamarense species complex Group IV), were investigated at a fixed station in Kesennuma Bay, northeast Japan, from April 2014 to April 2015. This investigation was conducted in addition to the typical samplings of seawater and bottom sediments to detect the dinoflagellates vegetative cells and resting cysts. Bloom occurrences of A. fundyense were observed June 2014 and February 2015 with maximum cell densities reaching 3.6 × 106 cells m−2 and 1.4 × 107 cells m−2, respectively. The maximum germination fluxes of A. fundyense cysts occurred in April 2014 and December 2014 and were 9.3 × 103 cells m−2 day−1 and 1.4 × 104 cells m−2 day−1, respectively. For A. pacificum, the highest cell density was 7.3 × 107 cells m−2 during the month of August, and the maximum germination fluxes occurred in July and August, reaching 5.8 × 102 cells m−2 day−1. Thus, this study revealed the seasonal dynamics of A. fundyense and A. pacificum cyst germination and their bloom occurrences in the water column. Blooms occurred one to two months after peak germination, which strongly suggests that both the formation of the initial population by cyst germination and its continuous growth in the water column most likely contributed to toxic bloom occurrences of A. fundyense and A. pacificum in the bay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-59
Number of pages8
JournalHarmful Algae
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1


  • Alexandrium fundyense
  • Alexandrium pacificum
  • Cyst
  • Germination
  • Mesocosm experiment
  • Toxic bloom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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