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Lisa Albinsson - Protistan Ecology Lab

University of Kalmar, Sweden

 

The effects of temperature on the survival and infectivity of the parasitic

dinoflagellate Amoebophrya sp.


Algal blooms are increasing all over the globe due to not only natural causes such as species dispersal but also human related causes such as increased nutrient levels in the water, global climate change and transfer of cells with ballast water.  Several mitigation methods to reduce algal blooms are today being investigated and one method suggests using parasites as a controlling agent of the harmful algal cells.

Akashiwo sanguinea is a dinoflagellate species which annually form extensive red tides in the Chesapeake Bay.  Although not known to be toxic, the species have been associated to fish kills in Japan and New Zealand, where simply the sheer amount of cells led to clogged gills and suffocation of the fish.  

Another dinoflagellate, Amoebophrya sp. is a parasite living on Akashiwo sanguinea, and results from earlier research suggest that Amoebophrya could be used as an A. sanguinea population controlling agent.  There are many factors that have to be studied before this could be conducted in a natural environment, and we still don't know how the parasite react to different levels of salinity and light. My study was focusing on another factor, temperature, which up until now never has been studied for this host parasite system.

By continuously studying the changes in the host and parasitic populations within a mixed culture at different temperatures I established the optimum temperature for parasites to be around 20ºC and with a threshold temperature at 10ºC where parasites are able to survive but not infect the hosts. 

Prior to the internship at SERC I graduated with a M Sc in Biology from the University of Kalmar in Sweden and will now (Sept, 2005) move to Hobart, Australia where I will start Graduate school as a PhD student. Not only did the internship give me a lot of valuable knowledge which will be useful to me in my future line of work, but also the chance to meet great people which I will stay in contact with for a long time to come.

Funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee