Development of an indirect quantitation method to assess ichthyotoxic b-type prymnesins from prymnesium parvum

Daniel Killerup Svenssen, Sofie Bjørnholt Binzer, Nikola Medić, Per Juel Hansen, Thomas Ostenfeld Larsen*, Elisabeth Varga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Harmful algal blooms of Prymnesium parvum have recurrently been associated with the killing of fish. The causative ichthyotoxic agents of this haptophyte are believed to be prymnesins, a group of supersized ladder-frame polyether compounds currently divided into three types. Here, the development of a quantitative method to assess the molar sum of prymnesins in water samples and in algal biomass is reported. The method is based on the derivatization of the primary amine group and subsequent fluorescence detection using external calibrants. The presence of prymnesins in the underivatized sample should be confirmed by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. The method is currently only partly applicable to water samples due to the low amounts that are present. The growth and cellular toxin content of two B-type producing strains were monitored in batch cultures eventually limited by an elevated pH. The cellular toxin contents varied by a factor of ~2.5 throughout the growth cycle, with the highest amounts found in the exponential growth phase and the lowest in the stationary growth/death phases. The strain K-0081 contained ~5 times more toxin than K-0374. Further investigations showed that the majority of prymnesins were associated with the biomass (89% ± 7%). This study provides the basis for further investigations into the toxicity and production of prymnesins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number251
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Fluorescence detection
  • Hab
  • Haptophyte
  • Ichthyotoxin
  • Microalgae
  • Phycotoxin
  • Quantitative analysis


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