Shellfish toxicity in UK waters: a threat to human health?
ABSTRACT: The potential for poisoning of humans through their consumption of shellfish which have themselves consumed biotoxin producing marine phytoplankton exists in the UK. Toxins are bio-accumulated within the shellfish flesh allowing them to reach harmful concentrations. This threat is in most part mitigated by monitoring programmes that assess both the presence of potentially harmful phytoplankton and shellfish flesh toxicity. However, the medical profession in the UK remains relatively ignorant of the potential for biotoxin derived shellfish toxicity, preventing quantification of magnitude, frequency, and severity of health effects in the community or the medical significance of more recently discovered toxins. While the current causative species and their toxins are relatively well characterised there remains a lack of understanding of the factors governing the temporal and spatial appearance of harmful phytoplankton. Expansion of shellfish aquaculture is likely both worldwide and in the UK. Better understanding of how harmful phytoplankton interact with their environment to promote the sporadic harmful blooms that we observe is required to underpin risk assessments.
Project description:An end-product market survey on biotoxins in commercial wild harvest shellfish (Plebidonax deltoides, Katelysia spp., Anadara granosa, Notocallista kingii) during three harvest seasons (2015?2017) from the coast of New South Wales, Australia found 99.38% of samples were within regulatory limits. Diarrhetic shellfish toxins (DSTs) were present in 34.27% of 321 samples but only in pipis (P. deltoides), with two samples above the regulatory limit. Comparison of these market survey data to samples (phytoplankton in water and biotoxins in shellfish tissue) collected during the same period at wild harvest beaches demonstrated that, while elevated concentrations of Dinophysis were detected, a lag in detecting bloom events on two occasions meant that wild harvest shellfish with DSTs above the regulatory limit entered the marketplace. Concurrently, data (phytoplankton and biotoxin) from Sydney rock oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) harvest areas in estuaries adjacent to wild harvest beaches impacted by DSTs frequently showed elevated Dinophysis concentrations, but DSTs were not detected in oyster samples. These results highlighted a need for distinct management strategies for different shellfish species, particularly during Dinophysis bloom events. DSTs above the regulatory limit in pipis sampled from the marketplace suggested there is merit in looking at options to strengthen the current wild harvest biotoxin management strategies.
Project description:Tetrodotoxins (TTXs) are traditionally associated with the occurrence of tropical Pufferfish Poisoning. In recent years, however, TTXs have been identified in European bivalve mollusc shellfish, resulting in the need to assess prevalence and risk to shellfish consumers. Following the previous identification of TTXs in shellfish from southern England, this study was designed to assess the wider prevalence of TTXs in shellfish from around the coast of the UK. Samples were collected between 2014 and 2016 and subjected to analysis using HILIC-MS/MS. Results showed the continued presence of toxins in shellfish harvested along the coast of southern England, with the maximum concentration of total TTXs reaching 253 µg/kg. TTX accumulation was detected in Pacific oysters (Crassostreagigas), native oysters (Ostreaedulis) common mussels (Mytilusedulis) and hard clams (Mercenariamercenaria), but not found in cockles (Cerastodermaedule), razors (Ensis species) or scallops (Pectenmaximus). Whilst the highest concentrations were quantified in samples harvested during the warmer summer months, TTXs were still evident during the winter. An assessment of the potential causative factors did not reveal any links with the phytoplankton species Prorocentrumcordatum, instead highlighting a greater level of risk in areas of shallow, estuarine waters with temperatures above 15 °C.
Project description:Interactions among microscopic planktonic organisms underpin the functioning of open ocean ecosystems. With few exceptions, these organisms lack advanced eyes and thus rely largely on chemical sensing to perceive their surroundings. However, few of the signaling molecules involved in interactions among marine plankton have been identified. We report a group of eight small molecules released by copepods, the most abundant zooplankton in the sea, which play a central role in food webs and biogeochemical cycles. The compounds, named copepodamides, are polar lipids connecting taurine via an amide to isoprenoid fatty acid conjugate of varying composition. The bloom-forming dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum responds to pico- to nanomolar concentrations of copepodamides with up to a 20-fold increase in production of paralytic shellfish toxins. Different copepod species exude distinct copepodamide blends that contribute to the species-specific defensive responses observed in phytoplankton. The signaling system described here has far reaching implications for marine ecosystems by redirecting grazing pressure and facilitating the formation of large scale harmful algal blooms.
Project description:Shellfish toxin monitoring programs often use mussels as the sentinel species to represent risk in other bivalve shellfish species. Studies have examined accumulation and depuration rates in various species, but little information is available to compare multiple species from the same harvest area. A 2-year research project was performed to validate the use of mussels as the sentinel species to represent other relevant eastern Canadian shellfish species (clams, scallops, and oysters). Samples were collected simultaneously from Deadmans Harbour, NB, and were tested for paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) and amnesic shellfish toxin (AST). Phytoplankton was also monitored at this site. Scallops accumulated PSTs and AST sooner, at higher concentrations, and retained toxins longer than mussels. Data from monitoring program samples in Mahone Bay, NS, are presented as a real-world validation of findings. Simultaneous sampling of mussels and scallops showed significant differences between shellfish toxin results in these species. These data suggest more consideration should be given to situations where multiple species are present, especially scallops.
Project description:Marine bacterial isolates cultured from the digestive tracts of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) contaminated with paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) were screened for the ability to reduce the toxicity of a PST mixture. Seven isolates reduced the overall toxicity of the algal extract by > or = 90% within 3 days. These isolates shared at least 99% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity with five Pseudoalteromonas spp. Phenotypic tests suggested that all are novel strains of Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis.
Project description:Bivalve molluscs represent an important food source within the Philippines, but the health of seafood consumers is compromised through the accumulation of harmful algal toxins in edible shellfish tissues. In order to assess the dynamics of toxin risk in shellfish, this study investigated the uptake, depuration, assimilation, and analogue changes of paralytic shellfish toxins in <i>Perna viridis</i>. Tank experiments were conducted where mussels were fed with the toxic dinoflagellate <i>Alexandrium minutum</i>. Water and shellfish were sampled over a six day period to determine toxin concentrations in the shellfish meat and water, as well as algal cell densities. The maximum summed toxin concentration determined was 367 µg STX eq./100 g shellfish tissue, more than six times higher than the regulatory action limit in the Philippines. Several uptake and depuration cycles were observed during the study, with the first observed within the first 24 h coinciding with high algal cell densities. Toxin burdens were assessed within different parts of the shellfish tissue, with the highest levels quantified in the mantle during the first 18 h period but shifting towards the gut thereafter. A comparison of toxin profile data evidenced the conversion of GTX1,4 in the source algae to the less potent GTX2,3 in the shellfish tissue. Overall, the study illustrated the temporal variability in <i>Perna viridis</i> toxin concentrations during a modelled algal bloom event, and the accumulation of toxin from the water even after toxic algae were removed.
Project description:Marine phytoplankton comprise the foundation of oceanic food webs and generate most of the Earth's oxygen. Of the many phytoplankton species in the ocean, a few dozen produce potent toxins, and at high concentrations can form what are called Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) or "red tides" that can discolor marine waters. Managers and scientists have been monitoring coastal waters and shellfish resources for HABs and their toxins to ensure seafood safety and understand why blooms occur. This educational activity focuses on a prominent HAB species that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Students will learn about the importance of HABs and PSP, as well as how scientists collect and use data to understand and predict blooms. Students will plot data on HAB species collected by scientists over multiple years of sampling. Students will also plot results over time and across regions, report on observed patterns, and complete grade-appropriate calculations. Lastly, group discussion will focus on determining whether geographic patterns exist that might influence where shellfish beds are closed. This activity is timely given the widespread wildlife mortalities and beach closures due to Florida red tide, as well as recent dog deaths attributed to exposure to freshwater cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms.
Project description:In late February 2016, a harmful algal bloom (HAB) of Alexandrium catenella was detected in southern Chiloé, leading to the banning of shellfish harvesting in an extended geographical area (~500 km). On April 24, 2016, this bloom produced a massive beaching (an accumulation on the beach surface of dead or impaired organisms which were drifted ashore) of surf clams Mesodesma donacium in Cucao Bay, Chiloé. To determine the effect of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins in M. donacium, samples were taken from Cucao during the third massive beaching detected on May 3, 2016. Whole tissue toxicity evidence a high interindividual variability with values which ranged from 1008 to 8763 μg STX eq 100 g-1 and with a toxin profile dominated by GTX3, GTX1, GTX2, GTX4, and neoSTX. Individuals were dissected into digestive gland (DG), foot (FT), adductor muscle (MU), and other body fractions (OBF), and histopathological and toxin analyses were carried out on the obtained fractions. Some pathological conditions were observed in gill and digestive gland of 40⁻50% of the individuals that correspond to hemocyte aggregation and haemocytic infiltration, respectively. The most toxic tissue was DG (2221 μg STX eq 100 g-1), followed by OBF (710 μg STX eq 100 g-1), FT (297 μg STX eq 100 g-1), and MU (314 μg STX eq 100 g-1). The observed surf clam mortality seems to have been mainly due to the desiccation caused by the incapability of the clams to burrow. Considering the available information of the monitoring program and taking into account that this episode was the first detected along the open coast of the Pacific Ocean in southern Chiloé, it is very likely that the M. donacium population from Cucao Bay has not had a recurrent exposition to A. catenella and, consequently, that it has not been subjected to high selective pressure for PSP resistance. However, more research is needed to determine the effects of PSP toxins on behavioral and physiological responses, nerve sensitivity, and genetic/molecular basis for the resistance or sensitivity of M. donacium.
Project description:Eutrophication has played a major role in the worldwide increase of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Higher input of key nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), can stimulate the growth of harmful algal species in freshwater, estuarine, and coastal marine ecosystems. Some HAB-forming taxa, particularly several cyanobacteria and dinoflagellate species, are harmful through the production of N-rich toxins that have detrimental effects on the environment and human health. Here, we test how changes in nutrient availability affect N-rich toxin synthesis in cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates using a meta-analysis approach. Overall, N-rich toxin content showed an increase with P limitation, while it tended to decrease with N limitation, but we also observed substantial variation in responses both within and across genera and toxin groups. For instance, in response to N limitation, microcystin content varied from a 297% decrease up to a 273% increase, and paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxin content varied from a 204% decrease to an 82% increase. Cylindrospermopsin, produced by N2-fixing cyanobacteria, showed no clear direction in response to nutrient limitation, and cellular contents of this compound may thus vary independently of nutrient fluctuations. Our results confirm earlier reported stoichiometric regulation of N-rich phytoplankton toxins, showing increased toxin content with an increase in cellular N:P ratios, and vice versa. Thus, changes in N-rich toxin content largely follow the changes in relative cellular N content. Consequently, although nutrient limitation may limit bloom biomass and thereby bloom toxicity, our results warn that P limitation can cause accumulation of cellular toxins and thus lead to unexpected increases in bloom toxicity.
Project description:The central California coast is a highly productive, biodiverse region that is frequently affected by the toxin-producing dinoflagellate Alexandrium catenella. Despite the consistent presence of A. catenella along our coast, very little is known about the movement of its toxins through local marine food webs. In the present study, we investigated 13 species of commercial finfish and rock crabs harvested in Monterey Bay, California for the presence of paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) and compared them to the presence of A. catenella and PSTs in sentinel shellfish over a 3-year period. Between 2003 and 2005, A. catenella was noted in 55% of surface water samples (n = 307) and reached a maximum concentration of 17,387 cells L-1 at our nearshore site in Monterey Bay. Peak cell densities occurred in the month of July and were associated with elevated shellfish toxicity in the summers of 2004 and 2005. When A. catenella was present, particulate PSTs were detected 71% of the time and reached a maximum concentration of 962 ng STXeq L-1. Of the 13 species tested, we frequently detected PSTs in Pacific sardines (Sardinops sagax; maximum 250 ?g STXeq 100 g-1), northern anchovies (Engraulis mordax; maximum 23.2 ?g STXeq 100 g-1), brown rock crabs (Cancer antennarius; maximum 49.3 ?g STXeq 100 g-1) and red rock crabs (C. productus; 23.8 ?g STXeq 100 g-1). PSTs were also present in one sample of Pacific herring (Clupea pallas; 13.3 ?g STXeq 100 g-1) and one sample of English sole (Pleuronectes vetulus; 4.5 ?g STXeq 100 g-1), and not detected in seven other species of flatfish tested. The presence of PSTs in several of these organisms reveals that toxins produced by A. catenella are more prevalent in California food webs than previously thought and also indicates potential routes of toxin transfer to higher trophic levels.