Analysis of Toxic Eucaryotic/Procaryotic Systems (BMBF Project TEPS)
The project TEPS is a multidisciplinary, collaborative project funded by the German Ministry for Education, Research, Science and Technology to investigate the complex interaction between various prokaryotes and eukaryotes to produce toxins in the marine ecosystems of the North and Baltic Seas. TEPS will examine the genetic relationships among toxic and non-toxic strains of selected microalgae and sponges; the role of marine bacteria in influencing toxic, microalgal blooms in the North and Baltic Sea; the possible role of toxic sponges and/or protozoa in harbouring toxic bacteria and the influence of these toxic assemblages on the development of algal blooms and toxin production; and the toxin profiles produced by the algae, sponges, protozoans and bacteria under different growth conditions.
The project will consist of three phases: During the characterisation phase we will carry out:
- a morphological and molecular characterisation of selected toxic and non toxic strains of microalgae,
- a molecular characterisation of their associated bacteria and free-living bacteria isolated during toxic algal blooms and at other times when toxic bacteria are known to be present in high numbers in the water column,
- a molecular characterisation of the sponges and their associated bacterio-flora,
- a molecular characterisation of the associated bacterio-flora from the protozoa,
- a biochemical characterisation of the toxins produced by the microalgae, the bacteria, the sponges and the protozoans and a study of their mode of action.
During the experimental phase culture experiments will be carried out to study the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on toxin production by the microalgae, the bacteria, the protozoans and the sponges. Mixed culture experiments will be used to test biotic effects on the production of toxins. A biochemical characterisation of the toxin produced and a study of the mode of action of the toxins will be performed from each biotic and aboitic factor tested. During the developmental phase we will design probes for the toxic organisms and prepare a description of the biotic and abiotic factors influencing toxicity under our test conditions. Gene probe specificity will be tested using flow cytometry and in-situ hybridisation using Confocal Microscopy. A microtiter plate detection system for toxic organisms will be developed. Localisation of the probes in the microalgae, the protozoa and in the sponge tissue will be performed with CM using fluorescently-labelled probes and TEM using gold labelling if necessary. It is hoped that the results from this phase will be used to further the development of an early-warning system for toxic events.
Phylogeny of the Haptophyta
Phylogeny of Alexandrium tamarense species complex