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Erik Selander


The ecology of harmful algal blooms

I'm interested in the ecology of harmful algae. Mainly the dinoflagellate genus Alexandrium that is responsible for a major part of the paralytic shellfish poisonings in the world. Some members of Alexandrium spp. produce very potent neurotoxins, saxitoxins. We try to understand what controls this toxin production and what role does it play in the pelagic system. We try to keep adress these questions from the theories developped in terrestrial chemical ecology rather than physiology and design experimnets to test them.

So far we have found a system where grazers (copepods) induce an increased toxin production in Alexandrium minutum the induced A. minutum has also been shown to resist grazers better than not induced cells which made us hypothesize that this may well facilitate the formation of Harmful algal blooms. I.e.if Alexandrium spp may allocate grazing pressure to competing non toxic species they would render the advantage necessary for the evolution of such a trait.