Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2015


Despite the ubiquitous occurrence of N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) in aquatic systems, assessments evaluating the toxicity of DEET on phytoplankton species are summed to a single study on a unicellular green alga. In particular, the toxicological effects of DEET in dinoflagellates are unknown. In this study, we employed the mixotrophic dinoflagellate Gymnodinium instriatum as a study system to evaluate acute effects of DEET on the oxygen flux of laboratory cultures. This study reports an inhibitory reaction model of DEET described by the equation y = 4.99 x 0.54, where y represents the percent inhibition of oxygen flux and x represents DEET concentration in mg L-1 (r2 = 0.98). Based on this model, the effective concentration of DEET needed to reduce O2 flux by 50% (EC50) for this species was found to be at 72.9 mg L-1. The reported EC50 is more than five times lower than the EC50 reported previously for the unicellular green algae Chlorella protothecoides. This study raises the question of the potential toxicological effects of DEET in dinoflagellates, in particular those populations inhabiting systems characterized by low water circulation such as enclosed bays and lagoons.