Chattonella subsalsa

Scientific Name

Chattonella subsalsa. Raphidophyte


Coastal North America and Europe.


C. subsalsa has been associated with fish kills in the mid-Atlantic region, including in the Virginia waters of Chesapeake Bay. It can produce brevetoxin-like compounds. If the toxin accumulates in shellfish at certain levels, it can cause health risks to people consuming contaminated shellfish.


Individual cells of the toxic algae <em>Chattonella subsalsa</em>.Common bloom species that forms what are often referred to as “brown” tides. It is found across a wide range of salinities (i.e., 15-30 parts per thousand) within Chesapeake Bay and in costal bays of the mid-Atlantic. Blooms are usually reported from April-June when water temperatures are between 60-77° F (15°-25° C).

Role in VIMS Research

VIMS researchers have responded to several blooms of this organism during the past decade. Some blooms have been associated with fish kills and/or shellfish with detectable levels of brevetoxin. Dose-response laboratory bioassays conducted at VIMS have demonstrated toxicity to brine shrimp.