Navigation Links
Cause of mussel poisoning identified

The origin of the neurotoxin azaspiracid has finally been identified after a search for more than a decade. The azaspiracid toxin group can cause severe poisoning in human consumers of mussels after being enriched in the shellfish tissues. The scientific periodical European Journal of Phycology reports in its current issue (Vol. 44/1: p. 63-79) that a tiny algal species, the dinoflagellate Azadinium spinosum, is responsible. Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association have isolated and described the hitherto unknown organism as a new genus and species of dinoflagellate. They successfully isolated the organism and multiplied it in pure laboratory cultures, subsequently identifying it as the producer of azaspiracid toxin.

Eating mussels is a special treat for many people, although it is not completely without danger. It has been known for a long time that consumption of mussels and other bivalve shellfish can cause poisoning in humans, with symptoms ranging from diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting to neurotoxicological effects, including paralysis and even death in extreme cases. Although "shellfish poisoning" can also be caused by pathogenic viruses and bacteria, many cases are due to gastrointestinal toxins and/or neurotoxins produced by certain marine microscopic plankton, the so-called "toxic algae". Mussels can filter a high amount of these toxic microorganisms from the seawater column, and after ingestion they retain the toxins and accumulate them in their edible flesh.

Azaspiracids comprise one group of these microalgal toxins The first known azaspiracid poisonings occurred in the Netherlands in 1995 after consumption of mussels from Ireland. While the toxin itself has been quite well investigated, the question of the origin remained inconclusive until now despite intensive research. According to published investigations by Irish researchers, the dinoflagellate species Protoperidinium crassipes (previously regarded as harmless) has been blamed as the origin of the toxins since 2003. Researchers from the Working Group on Ecological Chemistry, particularly the biologist Dr. Urban Tillmann and the chemist Dr. Bernd Krock from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research were able to show that Protoperidinium is only the vector and not the producer of the toxins, just like other voracious protozoa and mussels. They isolated a small alga from the North Sea off the Scottish east coast and described it as a new dinoflagellate species Azadinium spinosum while providing evidence of its azaspiracid production in the laboratory.

"We are able to produce so-called gene probes from our laboratory cultures with the help of molecular techniques", explains Tillmann. "These gene probes prove the existence of the toxin-producing algae in seawater samples and they offer an effective future early warning system for mussel farms", Tillmann continues. Apart from these applied aspects, the researchers are interested in quite fundamental questions: why does the alga produce these azaspiracid toxins and what are their ecological functions? The researchers have already planned the next expedition in order to further pursue these questions - they will head out into the North Sea with RV Heincke at the end of April 2009.


Contact: Ude Cieluch
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

Related biology news :

1. deCODE discovers cause of major subtype of glaucoma
2. Study begins to reveal clues to the cause and progression of sepsis
3. Bleeding, not inflammation, is major cause of early lung infection death
4. Gamma globulin effective in treating eye infections caused by adenoviruses
5. Hidden interactions between predators and prey: evolution causes cryptic dynamics in ecology
6. Spaceflight shown to alter ability of bacteria to cause disease
7. Grubs passion for plastic causes water loss
8. Human embryonic stem cells remain embryonic because of epigenetic factors
9. Salmonid hatcheries cause stunning loss of reproduction
10. Researchers find evidence linking stress caused by the Sept. 11 disaster with low birth weights
11. Enhanced DNA-repair mechanism can cause breast cancer
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Cause of mussel poisoning identified
(Date:11/4/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a new market report published by Transparency ... Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", ... value of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market ... during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today announced ... of its DNA library preparation products, including the ... ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been optimized ... NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of cell-free ... applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins Scientific ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... -- Munich, Germany , October ... automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos created ... that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s analysis ... , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze ... tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)...  Champions Oncology, Inc. (CSBR), engaged in the development ... development and use of oncology drugs, today announced that ... presenting at the LD MICRO Investor Conference on Wednesday, ... The conference, held at the Luxe Sunset Bel Air ... will feature 200 small/micro-cap companies and is expected to ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Ill. , Nov. 30, 2015  AbbVie, is ... program that focuses on a daily routine for managing ... take their medication can affect the way the body ... follow to their a daily routine are important. The ... to help patients better manage their hypothyroidism by establishing ...
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... 2015 , ... • Jeon Jin Bio Corp, a Korean Biotech venture company, ... , Bird Free, an oil-based, gel formula made ... including visual, smell, taste and touch, enabling safe, effective avian control without toxic chemicals ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 --> ... company specializing in imaging technologies, announced today that it has ... part of the Horizon 2020 European Union Framework Programme for ... large-scale clinical trial in breast cancer. , ... --> --> The study ...
Breaking Biology Technology: