Physiological and molecular responses of bivalves to toxic dinoflagellates
Keywords:bivalve, phycotoxin, harmful algal bloom, dinoflagellates, microarray, gene expression, RNA-seq
Dinoflagellates and other microalgae can produce a wide spectrum of toxic molecules, which are the main responsible of shellfish poisoning syndromes. During seasonal harmful algal blooms (HABs), many filter-feeding marine invertebrates, including bivalve molluscs, can accumulate phycotoxins at extremely high levels, thus representing a serious threat to human health. Furthermore, HABs also have a severe impact on the aquaculture sector due to the forced prolonged closure of large harvesting areas. Although the targets and mechanism of action of many phycotoxins have been extensively studied on vertebrate model organisms, so far just a little attention has been focused on their effects on marine invertebrates. Here we provide an overview about the molecular response of marine bivalves to phycotoxins, with a particular focus on toxins produced by dinoflagellates. Even though large-scale genomic and proteomic approaches on molluscs are still hindered by the limited molecular knowledge of these organisms, a few studies exploiting the most recent technological advances provide promising perspectives for a better comprehension of the mechanisms involved in shellfish toxicity and for the identification of molecular markers of contamination.