The endoparasitic dinoflagellates belonging to the genus Amoebophrya can infect a broad range of free-living marine dinoflagellates, including harmful/toxic species. The parasite kills its host; the high prevalence of the parasite has been suggested to be a significant factor for the termination of dinoflagellate blooms in marine systems. The issues involved in culturing host-parasite systems have greatly restricted further research on Amoebophrya biology. Here, we established the culture of a novel strain of Amoebophrya sp. ex Alexandrium catenella (Group I) from Osaka Bay, Japan, and studied its genetic diversity, host specificity, and prevalence in the field. Genetic analysis established that the strain we isolated was a novel culture strain infecting A. catenella. Among the host species tested, the Amoebophrya sp. could infect the genera Alexandrium and Prorocentrum in culture, and the infection was also confirmed in the genus Tripos in a field sample. A maximum prevalence of 73% was recorded during the Alexandrium bloom period in Osaka Bay, after which the host cell density rapidly declined. Our results indicated that the existence of the parasite had a significant effect on the dynamics of A. catenella, especially on the termination of the blooms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas