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A New Toxic Dinoflagellate Affecting Cultured....
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GRANT NUMBER:  NA37FD0227           NMFS NUMBER:  92-WO-021

REPORT TITLE: A New Toxic Dinoflagellate Affecting Cultured and Wild Estuarine Fish

AUTHOR:  North Carolina State University

PUBLISH DATE:  February 6, 1997

AVAILABLE FROM:  National Marine Fisheries Service, National Program Office, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.  PHONE: (301) 713-2358

ABSTRACT

The goal of the project was to characterize the ecological distribution, algal physiology, disease effects, and toxin of a new toxic dinoflagellate, Pfisteria piscicida, recently discovered in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary.  The organism is highly toxic and has been implicated in several major fish kills.  The project was temporarily halted until a more rigid safety plan for handling the toxic dinoflagellate in the laboratory was developed.  A field sampling survey for Pfisteria piscicida was conducted in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary. Collaborators also identified this organism in the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay Estuaries. The optimal salinity for toxic blooms was determined to be 15 ppt, with a range from nearly freshwater to 35 ppt.   Fish were exposed to a standardized concentration of the algae and examined. A variety of adverse effects were observed in toxin-exposed fish, including massive skin damage, edema, and hematological changes. The toxin was successfully extracted from seawater and the extract was demonstrated to kill fish in a bioassay.

 
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