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Molecular Response to Toxic Diatom-Derived Aldehydes in the Sea Urchin Paracentrotus lividus

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Matt Bentley



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Diatoms are dominant photosynthetic organisms in the world's oceans and represent a major food source for zooplankton and benthic filter-feeders. However, their beneficial role in sustaining marine food webs has been challenged after the discovery that they produce secondary metabolites, such as polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs), which negatively affect the reproductive success of many invertebrates. Here, we report the effects of two common diatom PUAs, heptadienal and octadienal, which have never been tested before at the molecular level, using the sea urchin, Paracentrotus lividus, as a model organism. We show that both PUAs are able to induce teratogenesis (i.e., malformations), as already reported for decadienal, the better-studied PUA of this group. Moreover, post-recovery experiments show that embryos can recover after treatment with all three PUAs, indicating that negative effects depend both on PUA concentrations and the exposure time of the embryos to these metabolites. We also identify the time range during which PUAs exert the greatest effect on sea urchin embryogenesis. Finally, we report the expression levels of thirty one genes (having a key role in a broad range of functional responses, such as stress, development, differentiation, skeletogenesis and detoxification processes) in order to identify the common targets affected by PUAs and their correlation with morphological abnormalities. This study opens new perspectives for understanding how marine organisms afford protection from environmental toxicants through an integrated network of genes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Varrella S, Romano G, Ianora A, Bentley MG, Ruocco N, Costantini M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Drugs

Year: 2014

Volume: 12

Issue: 4

Pages: 2089-2113

Online publication date: 04/04/2014

Acceptance date: 25/03/2014

Date deposited: 01/10/2014

ISSN (electronic): 1660-3397

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/md12042089


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