Global Distribution of Ciguatera Causing Dinoflagellates in the Genus Gambierdiscus.

Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  2010
Authors  Litaker, R. W.; Vandersea, M. W.; Faust, M. A.; Kibler, S. R.; Nau, A.; Chinain, M.; Holmes, M. J.; Holland, W. C.; Tester, P. A.
Journal Title  Toxicon
Volume  56
Pages  711-30
Journal Date  2010

Dinoflagellates in the genus Gambierdiscus produce toxins that bioaccumulate in tropical and subtropical fishes causing ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP). Little is known about the diversity and distribution of Gambierdiscus species, the degree to which individual species vary in toxicity, and the role each plays in causing CFP. This paper presents the first global distribution for specific Gambierdiscus species. Current sampling indicates five species endemic to the Atlantic (including the Caribbean/West Indies and Gulf of Mexico), five species specific to the tropical Pacific, and two globally distributed species, G. carpenteri and G. caribaeus. The regional species distributions correlate with differences in the ciguatoxins recovered from Atlantic and Pacific fishes indicating that Atlantic and Pacific Gambierdiscus spp. may produce different suites of toxins. A literature survey indicated that among-species toxicities varied by >100 fold compared to environmentally induced variations in toxicity of 2-9 fold. These data suggest that inherent between-species differences in toxicity may influence CFP occurrence more than does environmental up regulation of toxin production. How variations in within-species toxicity affect CFP incidence rates is unknown. The degree to which toxicity varies among species or strains has profound implications for developing a cost-effective early warning system for CFP.

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