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New species of toxic algae could be responsible for cases of ciguatera in Canary Islands

Date:
August 1, 2011
Source:
IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía
Summary:
A new species of toxic microalgae, which produces ciguatoxins, has been discovered in the Canary Islands. This is the first one that has been described in Spain and is probably responsible for the cases of ciguatera that have been recorded in Canary Islands.

A new species of toxic microalgae discovered in the Canary Islands is probably responsible for the cases of ciguatera that have been recorded in Canary Islands.
Credit: Image courtesy of IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía

A new species of toxic microalgae, which produces ciguatoxins, has been discovered by researchers at Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) in the Canary Islands. This is the first one that has been described in Spain and is probably responsible for the cases of ciguatera that have been recorded in Canary Islands.

Santiago Fraga and Francisco Rodriguez, researchers at the Oceanographic Centre of Vigo of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), in collaboration with scientists from other Spanish institutions (IRTA, CSIC and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), have published in the journal Harmful Algae the description of a new species of toxic microalgae, a microscopic dinoflagellate which lives epiphytic on rocky coastal macroalgae.

The species, named Gambierdiscus excentricus and discovered in the Canary Islands, is the first described in Spain capable of producing ciguatoxin-like and maitotoxin-like toxins, the substances responsible for ciguatera, a food borne illness caused by eating certain fishes carrying the toxin.

This disease mainly affects tropical Pacific, the Caribbean and Indian Oceans, but cases have been recorded in the Canary Islands which is probably because of this new species.

The disease

Ciguatera is contracted by eating a fish that have accumulated the microalgae. The toxin is transmitted through the food chain and the largest carnivorous fish have the highest concentrations.

The toxin does not affect the fish, so it is not possible to visually determine which fishes may be poisonous and it can only be determined analytically. In addition, ciguatoxins are stable both cooking and freezing and do not smell or taste.

Most symptoms are common to different disorders, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and fatigue. But there may be two very distinctive and unmistakable: one is the reversal of temperature sensation, feeling cold by touching hot objects andhot to touch cold objects, and the other is a tingling in the lips and tongue.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Santiago Fraga, Francisco Rodríguez, Amandine Caillaud, Jorge Diogène, Nicolás Raho, Manuel Zapata. Gambierdiscus excentricus sp. nov. (Dinophyceae), a benthic toxic dinoflagellate from the Canary Islands (NE Atlantic Ocean). Harmful Algae, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.hal.2011.06.013

Cite This Page:

IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. "New species of toxic algae could be responsible for cases of ciguatera in Canary Islands." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094314.htm>.
IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. (2011, August 1). New species of toxic algae could be responsible for cases of ciguatera in Canary Islands. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094314.htm
IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. "New species of toxic algae could be responsible for cases of ciguatera in Canary Islands." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094314.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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