Potential Harmful Dinoflagellates of Iraqi Coastal Marine Waters  

F.H. Ibrahim , I.J.M. Al-Shawi
Marine Science Center, University of Basrah, Iraq
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Marine Science, 2015, Vol. 5, No. 60   doi: 10.5376/ijms.2015.05.0060
Received: 17 Jul., 2015    Accepted: 28 Sep., 2015    Published: 28 Dec., 2015
© 2015 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Ibrahem H.F., and Al-Shawi I.J.M., 2015, Potential Harmful Dinoflagellates of Iraqi Coastal Marine Waters, International Journal of Marine Science, 5(60): 1-6 (doi: 10.5376/ijms.2015.05.0060)

Ecological scientists in many countries routinely monitor their coastal waters for potential harmful algae in order to prevent harvesting of contaminated sea food, but this is not the cause for Iraq The present work is the first attempt to recognize the potential harmful algae in the coastal waters of Iraq. Samples were collected from different locations along Shatt Al-Arab estuary and coastal line of Iraq for two years from February 2013 to December 2014. The water temperature during sampling period ranging between (26.67?-31.84?) at all stations. The salinity were fluctuated between (15-45.7) %, N:P ratio were (3-26). In this study (16) species of potential harmful algae were recorded during this period some of these are toxic. The dominate species were Ceratium furca, Dinophysis caudata, Dinophysis mile, Noctiluca scintillans, Prorocentrum micans, Protoperidinium divergensP. despressum. Four species were recorded for first time in Iraqi costal waters including C. declinatum, Dinophysis acuminatum, Protoperidinium steini and P. subinerme.
HABs; Iraqi coastal marine water; toxic algae; dinoflagellates

There is a growing belief that harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasingly spreading to all the oceans of the world, coastal seas, estuaries and lagoons(Ajuzie and Houvenaghel, 2009).These toxins may harm wildlife and humans when ingested or inhaled. Other algal blooms may negatively affect aquatic organisms by reducing oxygen in the water, resulting in significant fih kills (Al-Ansi et al., 2002). but they do not produce toxins and are not considered HABs.
Dinoflagellates are a part of the major HABs organisms. They belong to the diverse group of unicellular eukaryotes which are motile and largely photosynthetic (Leander & Keeling, 2004),. Some are mixotrophic, exhibiting both autotrophic and phagotrophic mode of feeding (Sherr and Sherr, 2002). They are a major group of primary producers that constitute the basic source of energy in aquatic food webs. Some dinoflagellates are, however, harmful to other aquatic biota, and to man who relies heavily on the aquatic environment for food and recreation (Ajuzie, 2002, 2008). Despite HABs have grave consequences on the environmental public health and local economy there is no attention was given so far to monitor them in our coastal water. There are many factors that increasing HABs Such as warm surface water temperatures, reduced grazing by predators, sunlight, increases nutrients, low flow conditions, Still water, Calm weather, Release of nutrients from sediments and Low salinity (Sheppard et al., 2009). Our work is an attempt to study the HABs species in our coastal water for the first time to prepare a guide for these algae species and put a base for more future studies.
Harmful Algal Blooms in the Gulf and Iraqi Coastal Waters
A rise in nutrients levels around mariculture and discharge of untreated sewage water into Kuwait Bay led to a HAB incident that affected the caged, as well as the wild fish and causing a massive fish kill in 1999 (Al-Yamani et al., 2000). The HABs incidences have been also reported from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman Fujairah, Iran and Oman (Sheppard et al., 2009).
There is one study on dinoflagellates in Iraqi coastal area (Al-Handal and Abdullaah,1995). They were recorded 36 species of dinoflagellates and pointed out that most of these species recorded were distributed to the marine environment by currents which play an important role in the transfer of these species from different regions of the Gulf to the study area. Al-Aarajy (2001) studid the fish kills that have occurred in the waters of Khor Abdullah during June 1999 and linked it to some types of dinoflagellate Prymensium parvum, Prorocentrum micans and Peridinium sp. Al-Shawi (2010) observed HABs during September 2008 in Khor Al-Zubair lagoon and recoded 10 species of dinoflagellates, the dominant species were Ceratium furca and Dinophysis caudata. Thangaraja et al. (2007) summarized the documented information on the HABs and red tide phenomena of Gulf of Oman and outer Arabian Sea ROPME Sea Area (RSA) 1987, the HABs species showed geographical distribution, spatial and temporal occurrence and their impacts in Omani waters were described and discussed. 
Materials and Methods
Description of Study Area
The Gulf is a semi-enclosed water body its area about (226000) km2 and the length ranges between (990-1000) km while the width (56-338) km. Because of the shallowness of its waters and high temperatures is a marked increase in evaporation rates and an increase in the values of salinity range between (40-50) part per thousand in the coastal areas (Michel et al., 1986; Ismail et al., 2007). The length of the Iraqi coast about 64 km, which is short compared with the Kuwaiti coast, ranging in length from 170-200 km, and Iran's coast up to 2000 km (Al-Yamani et al., 2004; Al-Nafisi, 2009).The north –west part of Gulf received major input through the Shatt Al-Arab estuary, Tigris and Euphrates rivers join near Garmatt Ali and form Shatt Al-Arab which turns to estuary at the end parts and enter the Gulf. Four stations were selected to collected phytoplankton samples and to investigated potential harmful species The first station was located at the Shatt Al-Arab estuary near Faw city and the second in the outer bar of the Shatt Al-Arab estuary near Kreen Area while the third located close to the Basra terminal oil port and the fourth selected at Khor Abdulla. All the stations are shown in the Figure 1.



Figure 1 Sampling Area in the north west Arabian Gulf


Field and lab work
Present work were obtained along the Shatt Al-Arab estuary and north west Arabian Gulf for four stations from February 2013 to December 2014 (Fig.1). Water quality measured in the field by using (YSA) multimeter made in USA. Phytoplankton collected by net and kept in 1L plastic bottles after preserved by adding drops of lugol solution. Phytoplankton samples were examined by using light microscope. The microphotographs of phytoplankton species were taken by employing a camera that fixed at the top of microscope various references were used to identified the studied phytoplankton including: Dodge (1982), Dodge (1985), Taylor (1987), and Perry (2003).
Environmental Factors
Water temperature, pH, salinity, Turbidity, and dissolved oxygen and N:P ratios ranges in all stations during study period are represented in the Table(1). The water temperature during sampling period ranging between (26.67-31.84)? at all stations. The salinity were lowest at station (1) ranging between (15-17) ptu and highest in the other stations (43.8-45.7) ptu. Turbidity were increasing in the station(4) while the lowest value recorded at station(2) and (3). The highest values of dissolved oxygen represented at station(3) and (2) respectively while the lowest recorded at stations(1) and (2) respectively. N:P two stations respectively while the lowest recoded at station (1) and (3).



Table 1 Ranges of some environmental factors during study period


A total of sixteen potentially harmful dinoflgellates were recorded in Iraqi coastal waters during this study. They including specie belonging to fife genra Ceratium, Dinophysis, Noctiluca, Prorocentrum, Protoperidinium. Some of these organisms are potentially toxic and others blooms forming flagellates Table 2. Four species were recorded for first time in Iraqi coastal water C. declinatum (Karsten) Fig.2(15), Dinophysis acuminate Fig.2(3), Protoperidinium steini (Balech) Fig.2(4). P. subinerme Fig.2(6).



Table 2 Occurrence of the Some Harmful Algae identified at NW Arabian Gulf during study period



Figure 2 Images of Some Potential Harmful Algae from Iraqi Costal Waters: (1) Dinophysis caudata (2) D. miles (3) D. acuminate (4) Protoperidinium steini (5) P. divergens (6) P. subinerme (7) P. despressu (8) Prorocentrum micans (9-10) Noctiluca scintillans (11) Ceratium horridum (12) C. trichoceros (13) C. fusus (14) C. furca (15) C. declinatum (16) C tripos


This work was basically designed to provide a qualitative account of potentially harmful algae in the Iraqi coastal waters. The low salinity values recorded in station one due to the effect of freshwater of Shatt Al-Arab, while other stations(marine) are less diluted by fresh water inputs. The temperature followed the seasonal pattern of Iraqi climate. The turbidity were highest at stations (4) compared with other staions due to high current speed in the mouth of Khor Abdulla. The N:P ratios were increasing in the stations (2 and 4) while decreasing at station one.

This is a very first attempt to investigate the prescience of HABs dinoflagellates in Iraq coastal waters. It is expected to mark the beginning of HABs monitoring in the country small account of the dinofagellates were observes in station one Shatt Al-Arab estuary because this station has fast flowing waters which may have been responsible for the absence of potential harmful dinoflagellates, and may be due to lowest values of N:P ratio that is limiting factor for several species of dinoflagellates (Faus, 2000)
There are many researcher who studied the diatoms of this area among them(Al-Handal, 1988; Al-Handal et al, 199; Al-Handal and Al-Rekabi,1994; Al-Handal, 2009), but none of them were focusing on harmful dinoflagellates. The most important and dominant genus observed during this study are genus Ceratium, this genuse is wide distributed in our region, (7) species were recorded were dominant at stations (2, 3 and 4) The high density and occurrence is Ceratium furca which is a high salinity tolerant species, tends to prefer conditions where nitrogen (N) rather phosphorus (P) serves as the growth-limiting nutrient. C. furca is non-toxic, but it has the potentials to form massive blooms (Faust, 2000). Such blooms are capable of killing aquatic biota. In 2001 C. furca blooms killed 100s to 1000s of gilthead sea bream (Sparus auratus) in aquaculture net pens in the Kuwait Bay (Glibert et al 2002). Ceratium fusus tolerates a wider range of salinity both N and P are equally growth limiting nutrients for C. fusus. In the less saline waters P is expected to be the growth-limiting nutrient, while in the more saline waters N is expected to control its growth. C. fusus is non toxic (Taylor et al.,1995). However, it is a fish killer, kills aquatic animals by depleting water oxygen content during high biomass blooms. The anther important genus is Dinophysis species recorded here D. caudate, D. acuminate and D. miles, D. caudata appears to tolerate a wider range of salinity (21-34 ‰). The apparent growth-limiting nutrient for the Dinophysis species is N (Singh et al.,2014). These species are all potentially toxic. It is well established that several Dinophysis species produce both dinophysistoxins and okadaic acid, all of which cause DSP (Diariatic Shellfish Poisoning) (Bravo et al., 2001). Prorocentrum micans these species was present in water samples collected from marine environments N is apparently the growth-limiting nutrient for the species. P. micans is a toxic dinoflagellate, toxicity in this species has not been demonstrated. However, blooms of P. micans have been reported to kill aquatic biota. A bloom of this species alongside that of C. furca caused fish mortalities in Iraqi coastal waters in 1999 when they caused anoxic conditions that resulted in the suffocation of the fishes (Al-Aarajy, 2001).
Ajuzie C.C., 2002, Studies on the harmful algal bloom phenomenon: a first perception and monitoring in Nigerian coastal waters, and the effects of the DSP-producing dinoflagellate Prorocentrum lima (Ehrenberg) Dodge on other aquatic biota. – 260 pp., D.Sc. Thesis, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.
Ajuzie C.C., 2008, Toxic Prorocentrum lima induces abnormal behavior in juvenile sea bass. – J. Appl. Phycol., 20: 19–27
Ajuzie C. C. and Houvenaghel G. T., 2009, Preliminary survey of potentially harmful dinoflagellates in Nigeria’s coastal waters. Fottea, 9(1): 107–120
Al-Aarajy M. J., 2001, Some observation on an accident fish mortality in north- west Arabian Gulf. Marina Mesopotamica, special Issue,16(2): 431- 439
Al-Ansi M.A., Abdel-Moati A.R., and Al-Ansari I.S.,2002, Causes of fish mortality along the Qatari waters Arabian Gulf, International Journal Environmental Studies: 59-71
Al-Handal A.Y., 1988, Planktonic diatoms of the of the North-West Arabian Gulf. Marina Mesopotamica, 3(1): 43-101
Al-Handal A.Y., 2009, Littoral diatoms from the Shatt Al-Arab estuary,North-West  Arabian Gulf. Cryptogamie, Algol., 30(2): 153-183
Al-Handal  A. Y. and Al-Rekabi K. M., 1994, Diatoms of Turbid Lagoon in The North-West Arabian Gulf, Riv.Idrobiol., 33: 17-38
Al-Handal  A.Y., and Abdullah D. S., 1995, Dinoflagellates from North-West Arabian Gulf, Marina Mesopotamica, 10(2): 283-292
Al-Handaln A.Y., Ghani A.A., and Al-Saboonchi A.A.,1991, Phytoplankton of  Khor Al-Zubair lagoon, Nort-West Arabian Gulf. Marina Mesopotamica, 6,1: 7-33
Al-Shawi I. J. M., 2010, Ecological and Taxanomical studies to plankton in Khor Al-Zubair lagoon with determination of the total petroleum hydrocarbons levels. Ph.D thesis, College of Agriculture, University of  Basrah :148
Bravo  I., Fernandez  M.L., Ramilo  I. and  Martinez A.,2001, Toxin composition of the toxic dinoflagellate Prorocentrum lima isolated from different locations along the Galician coast (NW Spain). – Toxicon,39, 1537–1545
Ismail W. A., Al-Yamani  F.Y. and Al-Rifaei K.S., 2007, Field survey and perturbation experiment in testing the role of eutrophication in initiating red tide in Kuwait bay. International Journal of Ocean nad Oceanography, 2,1: 187-211
Michel H. B., Behbehan M., Herring D., Mrar M., Shoushani M., and Brakoniecki T., 1986, Zooplankton diversity, distribution and abundance in Kuwait waters. Kuwait Bulletin of Marine Science, 8:37-105
Al-Yamani F. Y.,Bishop, J. M., Ramadan E., Al-Husaini M. and Al-Ghadban A.,2004, Oceanographic Atlas of Kuwait's waters. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Safat, Kuwait.118 pp.
Al-Nafisi R. S, 2009, Positive Impact of Mangrove Plantation on Kuwait Costal Environment. European Journal of Science Research, 26,4: 510-521
Colin S.P. and Dam H.G, 2005, Testing for resistance of pelagic marine copepods to a toxic dinoflagellate. – Evol. Ecol.,18: 355–377
Faust M.A.,2000, Biodiversity of phytoplankton species in mangrove ponds, Pelican Cay, Belize- J. Phycol.,36: 2228
Glibert P. M., Landsberg J. H., Evans  J. J., Al-Sarawi  M. A., Faraj, M., Al-Jarallah  M. A., Haywood  A., Ibrahem  S. Klesius p.,Powell C. and Shoemaker,2002, A fish Kill of massive proportion in Kuwait bay, Arabian Gulf, 2001: the role of Bacterial disease, harmful algae and eutrophication. Harmful Algae, 1 : 215-231
Leander B.S. and Keeling P.J.,2004, Early evolutionary history of dinoflagellates and apicomplexans (Alveolata) as inferred from HSP90 and actin phylogenies, J. Phycol., 40: 341–350
Matthews S.G. ana Pitcher G.C.,1996), Worst recorded marine mortality on the South African coast. – In: Yas umoto, T., Osh ima, Y. and Fukuyo, Y. (eds): Harmful and Toxic Algal Blooms: 89–92, UNESCO, Paris.
Perry R.A.,2003, A guide to the marine plankton of south Californian.3rd Edition Report by UCLA ocean-globe and High School: 23
Sheppard Ch., Al-Husiani M., Al-Jamali F., Al-Yamani F, Baldwin R,Bishop J.Benzoni F, Dutrieux E., Dulvy N., Durvasula S., Jones D. Loughland, R. Medio,D. Nithyanandan,M. Pilling G. Polikarpova L. Price A. Purkis S. Riiegl,B. Saburova M.,Namin K., Tayor O., Wilson S. and Zainal Kh., 2010,The Gulf: A young sea in decline.Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60:13-38.
Sherr  E.B. and Sherr  B.F, 2002, Significance of predation by protists in aquatic microbial food webs.–Antonie Leeuwenhoek, 81:293–308
Singh A.,Harding H.R.V. and Godhe A.,2014, An assessment of Dinophysis booms in the coastal Arabian Sea. Harmful Agae,34:29-35

Taylor F.J.R., 1993, Current problems with harmful phytoplankton blooms in British Columbia waters. – In: Smayda, T.J. & Shimizu, Y. (eds): Toxic Phytoplankton Blooms in the Sea, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 699–703
International Journal of Marine Science
• Volume 5
View Options
. PDF(220KB)
Associated material
. Readers' comments
Other articles by authors
pornliz suckporn porndick pornstereo . F.H. Ibrahim
. I.J.M. Al-Shawi
Related articles
. HABs
. Iraqi coastal marine water
. toxic algae
. dinoflagellates
. Email to a friend
. Post a comment