Prorocentrum minimum (Pavillard) Schiller

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Harmful Algae

Publication Date


Date Added



Prorocentrum minimum (Pavillard) Schiller, a common, neritic, bloom-forming dinoflagellate, is the cause of harmful blooms in many estuarine and coastal environments. Among harmful algal bloom species, P. minimum is important for the following reasons: it is widely distributed geographically in temperate and subtropical waters; it is potentially harmful to humans via shellfish poisoning; it has detrimental effects at both the organismal and environmental levels; blooms appear to be undergoing a geographical expansion over the past several decades; and, a relationship appears to exist between blooms of this species and increasing coastal eutrophication. Although shellfish toxicity with associated human impacts has been attributed to P. minimum blooms from a variety of coastal environments (Japan; France; Norway; Netherlands; New York, USA), only clones isolated from the Mediterranean coast of France, and shellfish exposed to P. minimum blooms in this area, have been shown to contain a water soluble neurotoxic component which killed mice. Detrimental ecosystem effects associated with blooms range from fish and zoobenthic mortalities to shellfish aquaculture mortalities, attributable to both indirect biomass effects (e.g., low dissolved oxygen) and toxic effects. P. minimum blooms generally occur under conditions of high temperatures and incident irradiances and low to moderate salinities in coastal and estuarine environments often characterized as eutrophic, although they have been found under widely varying salinities and temperatures if other factors are conducive for growth. The physiological flexibility of P. minimum in response to changing environmental parameters (e.g., light, temperature, salinity) as well as its ability to utilize both inorganic and organic nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon nutrient sources, suggest that increasing blooms of this species are a response to increasing coastal eutrophication.