Combined effects of warming and acidification on accumulation and elimination dynamics of paralytic shellfish toxins in musselsMytilus galloprovincialis

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Abstract

Harmful algal blooms (HAB) have been increasing in frequency and intensity most likely due to changes on global conditions, which constitute a significant threat to wild shellfish and its commercial farming. This study evaluated the impact of increasing seawater temperature and acidification on the accumulation/elimination dynamics of HAB-toxins in shellfish. Mytilus galloprovincialis were acclimated to four environmental conditions simulating different climate change scenarios: i) current conditions, ii) warming, iii) acidification and iv) interaction of warming with acidification. Once acclimated, mussels were exposed to the paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) producing dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum for 5 days and to non-toxic diet during the subsequent 10 days. High toxicity levels (1493 μg STX eq. kg−1) exceeding the safety limits were determined under current conditions at the end of the uptake period. Significantly lower PSP toxicity levels were registered for warming- and acidification-acclimated mussels (661 and 761 μg STX eq. kg−1). The combined effect of both warming and acidification resulted in PSP toxicity values slightly higher (856 μg STX eq. kg−1). A rapid decrease of toxicity was observed in mussels at the current conditions after shifting to a non-toxic diet, which was not noticed under the predicted climate change scenarios. Variability of each PST analogue, measured throughout the experiment, highlighted different mechanisms are associated with changes of each environmental factor, although both resulting in lower toxicity. Warming-acclimated mussels showed lower accumulation/elimination rates, while acidification-acclimated mussels showed higher capability to accumulate toxins, but also a higher elimination rate preventing high toxicity levels. As different mechanisms are triggered by warming and acidification, their combined effect not leads to a synergism of their individual effects. The present work is the first assessing the combined effect of climate change drivers on accumulation/elimination of PSTs, in mussels, indicating that warming and acidification may lead to lower toxicity values but longer toxic episodes. PSTs are responsible for the food poisoning syndrome, paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans. This study can be considered as the first step to build models for predicting shellfish toxicity under climate change scenarios.

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