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Toxic Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata (Bacillariophyceae) from the Gulf of Naples: morphology, toxin analysis and phylogenetic relationships with other Pseudo-nitzschia species


The genus Pseudo-nitzschia includes several species capable of producing domoic acid, the causative agent of Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning. Some of these species have been recorded frequently in the Gulf of Naples. For one of the species, P. multistriata, which has been recurrently found in our sampling area since 1995, this is the first report for European waters. Here we provide further details on the fine structure of this species. Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata was the only one found to produce domoic acid among all the Pseudo-nitzschia species from the Gulf of Naples, and this finding raises the number of potentially toxic species in this genus to nine. Phylogenetic relationships among several Pseudo-nitzschia species were assessed using the hypervariable domains (D1–D3) of the large subunit (LSU) rDNA. The match between the phylogeny obtained and important taxonomic characters used in this genus are discussed. Results show that P. multistriata clusters with wider species lacking a central larger interspace in the raphe. Close genetic relationships were determined between P. fraudulenta and P. subfraudulenta, and between P. pungens and P. multiseries. Genetic differences among these pairs of species are comparable to those among isolates of P. pseudodelicatissima from the Gulf of Naples, indicating high intraspecific genetic diversity of Pseudo-nitzschia species in the relatively conserved LSU region. This could explain the problematic results obtained when testing a match between species-specific Pseudo-nitzschia LSU probes and our sequences.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: M. Montresor. Fax: +39 81 7641355. e-mail:
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European Journal of Phycology
  • ISSN: 0967-0262
  • EISSN: 1469-4433
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-phycology
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