ECOHAB:Florida – An In-depth Study of Toxic Dinoflagellate Karenia brevis (formerly known as Gymnodinium breve)

EPA Grant Number: R827085
Title: ECOHAB:Florida – An In-depth Study of Toxic Dinoflagellate Karenia brevis (formerly known as Gymnodinium breve)
Investigators: Steidinger, Karen A. , Tester, Patricia A. , Millie, David F. , Landsberg, Jan H. , Kirkpatrick, Gary J. , Schofield, Oscar M.E. , Tomas, Carmelo R. , Dolah, Francis Van , Kamykowski, Daniel , Redalje, Donald , Fahnenstiel, Gary , Fournie, Jack , Janowitz, Jerald , McGuire, Peter , Pierce, Richard , Lohrenz, Steven
Current Investigators: Steidinger, Karen A. , Vargo, Gabriel A. , Tester, Patricia A. , Neely, Merrie Beth , Millie, David F. , Landsberg, Jan H. , Kirkpatrick, Gary J. , Schofield, Oscar M.E. , Tomas, Carmelo R. , Dolah, Francis Van , Kamykowski, Daniel , Redalje, Donald , Fahnenstiel, Gary , Fournie, Jack , Janowitz, Jerald , Pierce, Richard , Lohrenz, Steven
Institution: Florida Marine Research Institute , Rutgers University - New Brunswick , University of Southern Mississippi , Mote Marine Laboratory , University of Florida
Current Institution: Florida Marine Research Institute , Mote Marine Laboratory , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , North Carolina State University , Oregon State University , Rutgers University - New Brunswick , U. S. Environmental Protection Agency , University of South Florida , University of Southern Mississippi
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 15, 1998 through September 30, 2002 (Extended to September 30, 2003)
Project Amount: $975,000
RFA: Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water Quality , Harmful Algal Blooms , Water , Aquatic Ecosystems


This program is part of a larger program called ECOHAB: Florida that includes this study, physical oceanography, circulation patterns and shelf scale modeling for predicting the occurrence and transport of Gymnodinium breve red tides. The physical part of the program is funded out of NOAA and EPA and is operated by the University of South Florida, Department of Marine Science. The coordinated programs provide data to do large and small scale modeling of blooms.


  • Determine the interactions of cellular, behavioral, life cycle and community regulation processes with environmental forcing factors during stages of bloom development.
  • Model the biophysical interactions of G. breve red tides on the west Florida shelf at small scales (< 1 km) at the physiological level of G. breve's interaction with its chemical and physical habitat.
  • Determine the sources of inorganic and organic nutrients that allow growth and persistence of large G. breve populations in coastal waters.
  • Determine the production, occurrence, fate and effects of brevetoxins in the environment during and after G. breve blooms.


  • Utilize both laboratory research and cruises (annual three week process cruise, monthly synoptic cruises and small boat transects) on the west Florida shelf, to pursue the above objectives.
  • Collect time and depth series of environmental data.
  • Track developing blooms and model the biogeochemical and behavioral aspects of G. breve bloom dynamics. Apparatus (SUPA).
  • Use clonal cultures of different G. breve isolates to do crosses for sexual reproduction studies.
  • Collect shelf sediments for detection of possible G. breve cysts.
  • Use cultures for the development of surface recognition probes.
  • Determine G. breve growth rates in situ and evaluate senescence in bloom termination by looking at regulatory proteins.
  • Establish the DNA sequences of different G. breve isolates.
  • Determine zooplankton grazing pressure.
  • Examine uptake kinetics for inorganic and organic nitrogen and phosphorus using recent cultures of G. breve..
  • Collect faunal specimens from red tide and non-red tide areas and analyze tissues for brevetoxins.
  • Expected Results:

  • Environmental variables associated with red tide blooms can be tested statistically for correlations and patterns.
  • Determine if vertical movement during the diel cycle is related to cell cycle stage and the quota of cell storage products.
  • Determine if photobiology is significant in establishing physiological state and acclimation of the population.
  • Determine the primary productivity of G. breve specifically within the community production: derive other species-specific measurements that pertain to growth.
  • Document the entire life cycle of G. breve and determine if there are bottom resting stages; determine if different geographic isolates represent genetic strains.
  • Resolve the cell cycle of G. breve and how it influences bloom development and demise.
  • Produce molecular probes for identification of species and possibly different isolates.
  • Answer the question "Does relaxed grazing pressure allow G. breve to bloom?"
  • Answer the question "To what extent do N and P sources support growth for the development and maintenance of blooms" and "Do elevated nutrient levels maintain blooms longer?"
  • Determine what trophic levels and components are affected by the transfer of toxins in the environment and in animals and what that translates to as a risk factor to resources and humans.
  • The above data results will be used in modeling the dynamics of blooms.
  • Publications and Presentations:

    Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 79 publications for this project

    Journal Articles:

    Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 25 journal articles for this project

    Supplemental Keywords:

    marine, estuary, harmful algal blooms, red tides, ecological effects, population effects, perturbations, trophic transfer of phycotoxins, longevity and stability of phycotoxins, conversion of phycotoxins, oceanography, analytical methods, Gulf of Mexico, seafood safety, public health safety, ecological modeling, small scale modeling, remote sensing, EPA region 4., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Waste, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Bioavailability, Ecology, Contaminated Sediments, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Health Risk Assessment, Oceanography, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, algal blooms, Southeast, Ecology and Ecosystems, Biology, Ecological Indicators, ecological effects, ecological exposure, red tides, contaminated sediment, brevetoxins, harmful algal blooms, ecological modeling, West Coast of Florida, dinoflagellate Gymnodinium breve, Gymnodinium breve toxins, ECOHAB, dinoflagellate, Florida, ecological models

    Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report