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Mar. Drugs 2012, 10(1), 163-176; doi:10.3390/md10010163

Tetrodotoxin Concentrations in Pleurobranchaea maculata: Temporal, Spatial and Individual Variability from New Zealand Populations

1,2,* , 1
1 Cawthron Institute, Private Bag 2, Nelson 7042, New Zealand 2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand 3 Department of Chemistry, Otago University, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand 4 Auckland Council, 1 The Strand, Level 4, Takapuna, Auckland 0622, New Zealand
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 November 2011 / Revised: 11 January 2012 / Accepted: 11 January 2012 / Published: 17 January 2012
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Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin that has been identified in a range of phylogenetically unrelated marine and terrestrial organisms. Tetrodotoxin was recently detected in New Zealand in Pleurobranchaea maculata (the grey side-gilled sea slug). From June 2010 to June 2011 wild specimens were collected from 10 locations around New Zealand. At one site (Narrow Neck Beach, Auckland) up to 10 individuals were collected monthly for 6 months. Attempts were also made to rear P. maculata in captivity. Tetrodotoxin was detected in samples from eight of the ten sites. The highest average (368.7 mg kg−1) and maximum (1414.0 mg kg−1) concentrations were measured in samples from Illiomama Rock (Auckland). Of the toxic populations tested there was significant variability in TTX concentrations among individuals, with the highest difference (62 fold) measured at Illiomama Rock. Tetrodotoxin concentrations in samples from Narrow Neck Beach varied temporally, ranging from an average of 184 mg kg−1 in June 2010 to 17.5 mg kg−1 by December 2010. There was no correlation between TTX levels and mass. The highest levels correspond with the egg laying season (June–August) and this, in concert with the detection of high levels of TTX in eggs and early larval stages, suggests that TTX may have a defensive function in P. maculata. Only one larva was successfully reared to full maturation and no TTX was detected.
Keywords: tetrodotoxin; Pleurobranchaea maculata; geographic variability; temporal variability tetrodotoxin; Pleurobranchaea maculata; geographic variability; temporal variability
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Wood, S.A.; Taylor, D.I.; McNabb, P.; Walker, J.; Adamson, J.; Cary, S.C. Tetrodotoxin Concentrations in Pleurobranchaea maculata: Temporal, Spatial and Individual Variability from New Zealand Populations. Mar. Drugs 2012, 10, 163-176.

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