Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)

Toxicology of Gambierdiscus spp. (Dinophyceae) from Tropical and Temperate Australian Waters

  • Larsson M, Laczka O,
  • Harwood DT,
  • Lewis R, Himaya S, Murray S,
  • and Doblin M
1 January, 2018

Larsson M, Laczka O, Harwood D, Lewis R, Himaya S, Murray S, Doblin M 2018. Toxicology of Gambierdiscus spp. (Dinophyceae) from Tropical and Temperate Australian Waters. Marine Drugs 16(1): 7.

DOI link here


Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP) is a human illness caused by the consumption of marine fish contaminated with ciguatoxins (CTX) and possibly maitotoxins (MTX), produced by species from the benthic dinoflagellate genus Gambierdiscus. Here, we describe the identity and toxicology of Gambierdiscus spp. isolated from the tropical and temperate waters of eastern Australia. Based on newly cultured strains, we found that four Gambierdiscus species were present at the tropical location, including G. carpenteriG. lapillus and two others which were not genetically identical to other currently described species within the genus, and may represent new species. Only G. carpenteri was identified from the temperate location. Using LC-MS/MS analysis we did not find any characterized microalgal CTXs (P-CTX-3B, P-CTX-3C, P-CTX-4A and P-CTX-4B) or MTX-1; however, putative maitotoxin-3 (MTX-3) was detected in all species except for the temperate population of G. carpenteri. Using the Ca2+ influx SH-SY5Y cell Fluorescent Imaging Plate Reader (FLIPR) bioassay we found CTX-like activity in extracts of the unidentified Gambierdiscus strains and trace level activity in strains of G. lapillus. While no detectable CTX-like activity was observed in tropical or temperate strains of G. carpenteri, all species showed strong maitotoxin-like activity. This study, which represents the most comprehensive analyses of the toxicology of Gambierdiscus strains isolated from Australia to date, suggests that CFP in this region may be caused by currently undescribed ciguatoxins and maitotoxins.