Aspergillus sydowii marine fungal bloom in Australian coastal waters, its metabolites and potential impact on Symbiodinium dinoflagellates

Aiko Hayashi, Andrew Crombie, Ernest Lacey, Anthony J. Richardson, Daniel Vuong, Andrew M. Piggott, Gustaaf Hallegraeff*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)
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    Dust has been widely recognised as an important source of nutrients in the marine environment and as a vector for transporting pathogenic microorganisms. Disturbingly, in the wake of a dust storm event along the eastern Australian coast line in 2009, the Continuous Plankton Recorder collected masses of fungal spores and mycelia (∼150,000 spores/m3) forming a floating raft that covered a coastal area equivalent to 25 times the surface of England. Cultured A. sydowii strains exhibited varying metabolite profiles, but all produced sydonic acid, a chemotaxonomic marker for A. sydowii. The Australian marine fungal strains share major metabolites and display comparable metabolic diversity to Australian terrestrial strains and to strains pathogenic to Caribbean coral. Secondary colonisation of the rafts by other fungi, including strains of Cladosporium, Penicillium and other Aspergillus species with distinct secondary metabolite profiles, was also encountered. Our bioassays revealed that the dust-derived marine fungal extracts and known A. sydowii metabolites such as sydowic acid, sydowinol and sydowinin A adversely affect photophysiological performance (Fv/Fm) of the coral reef dinoflagellate endosymbiont Symbiodinium. Different Symbiodinium clades exhibited varying sensitivities, mimicking sensitivity to coral bleaching phenomena. The detection of such large amounts of A. sydowii following this dust storm event has potential implications for the health of coral environments such as the Great Barrier Reef.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number59
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalMarine Drugs
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Aspergillus sydowii
    • Symbiodinium
    • secondary metabolites
    • sydonic acid
    • sydowinin
    • sydowinol
    • sydonol
    • coral disease
    • maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm)


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