Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Algal Toxin From Mussels Synthesized

Date:
March 6, 2009
Source:
ETH Zurich
Summary:
Chemists have synthesized an algal toxin that accumulates in mussels. This may help develop a method to detect the toxin in these molluscs before they are served up for human consumption.

Mussels. Eating mussels runs the risk of acute poisoning due to accumulated algal toxins.
Credit: iStockphoto

ETH Zurich chemists have synthesized an algal toxin that accumulates in mussels. This may help develop a method to detect the toxin in these molluscs before they are served up for human consumption.

Related Articles


Stomach upsets often occur after eating seafood and fish. Mussels are regarded as particularly “dangerous”, not only because they may have been out of the sea for a long time before they reach the plate, but also because these molluscs feed on plankton which they filter from the water. Some of the organisms that comprise plankton, mainly algae, produce toxins that eventually accumulate in the mussels – and poison whoever eats them.

Unexplored substance synthesised

A team led by chemistry professor Erick M. Carreira in the Organic Chemistry Laboratory has now carried out the first ever complete laboratory synthesis of a natural product from the chlorosulpholipids class and hence confirmed its structure.

The compound prepared in the laboratory has shown to have cytotoxic properties and could be partly responsible for food poisoning caused by mussels. In nature, it only occurs in minute amounts as a constituent of the membrane of the organisms from which it was isolated. The chlorosulpholipid being studied probably originates from a dinoflagellate, a tiny algal species. However, the role played by the substance as a membrane component is unresolved, especially since the amounts initially isolated were insufficient for detailed scientific studies.

Although chlorosulpholipids have been known since the sixties, the lipid that has just been synthesised was first isolated in the nineties from the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis which is found in the Adriatic Sea. Christian Nilewski and Roger W. Geisser, chemists in Carreira’s laboratory, developed ground-breaking methodologies and strategies to synthesise this and related structures.

The way is open for toxicological studies

Thanks to their synthesis skills, the ETH Zurich researchers can now prepare larger amounts of the substance. This opens up new opportunities for biochemical, toxicological and medical studies. Carreira explains that, “The molecule we have synthesised may also help develop analytical methods which enable the toxin to be detected in mussels before they are sold to a restaurant.” The ETH Zurich chemists’ success also makes work easier for food technologists. Until now, they have used mice to check the level of algal toxins in mussels. In spite of these tests, and the rule of thumb that mussels should not be eaten in the spring and summer months, many cases of poisoning occur every year. Mussel poisonings in particular are often severe, with symptoms extending from tingling lips to paralysis of the respiratory muscles, potentially leading to death.

Many questions remain unanswered

This first synthesis of a representative of the chlorosulpholipids now offers an opportunity to decipher more secrets about “mussel toxins”. For example, little is known about the ecological function and potential hazards of these substances. Thanks to the laboratory synthesis, these substances will probably soon cause fewer headaches for scientists – and seafood lovers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ETH Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nilewski et al. Total synthesis of a chlorosulpholipid cytotoxin associated with seafood poisoning. Nature, 2009; 457 (7229): 573 DOI: 10.1038/nature07734

Cite This Page:

ETH Zurich. "Algal Toxin From Mussels Synthesized." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220124910.htm>.
ETH Zurich. (2009, March 6). Algal Toxin From Mussels Synthesized. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220124910.htm
ETH Zurich. "Algal Toxin From Mussels Synthesized." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220124910.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins