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Special Issue "Toxins from Aquatic Organisms"

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A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651). This special issue belongs to the section "Marine and Freshwater Toxins".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. David Sheehan

Proteomic Research Laboratory, Head of School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, University College Cork, Western Gateway Building, Western Rd, Cork, Ireland
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 353 21 4904207
Fax: +35 321 427 4034
Interests: enzymology and evolution of glutathione transferases; application of proteomics to study of oxidative stress; implications of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species for kidney function; environmental toxicology; nanomaterials as emerging toxicological threats

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Many toxins are produced in aquatic organisms ranging from cyanobacteria, to dinoflagellates, algae and other organisms both of freshwater and marine origin. As natural compounds, these toxins have not been thought of as environmental pollutants but they do pose toxic threats to other aquatic life-forms and to human health and they can be bioaccumulated and biotransformed in target organisms resulting in a more complicated toxic threat. This is exemplified by the paralytic shellfish poisoning of humans on eating shellfish contaminated by dinoflagellate toxins arising from algal “blooms”. Such blooms are occurring more often and more severely worldwide with serious implications for aquaculture, mariculture, environmental and human health. This special issue deals with structure, analysis, potential as novel drugs, toxic effects, biotransformation/accumulation and detoxification and environmental implications of toxins from aquatic organisms.

Prof. David Sheehan
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • toxin
  • freshwater
  • marine
  • dinoflagellates
  • cyanobacteria
  • pollution
  • red tide
  • algal bloom
  • global warming

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Venomous Secretions from Marine Snails of the Terebridae Family Target Acetylcholine Receptors
Toxins 2013, 5(5), 1043-1050; doi:10.3390/toxins5051043
Received: 5 December 2012 / Revised: 13 May 2013 / Accepted: 13 May 2013 / Published: 21 May 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (625 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Venoms from cone snails (Conidae) have been extensively studied during the last decades, but those from other members of the suborder Toxoglossa, such as of Terebridae and Turridae superfamilies attracted less interest so far. Here, we report the effects of venom and gland
[...] Read more.
Venoms from cone snails (Conidae) have been extensively studied during the last decades, but those from other members of the suborder Toxoglossa, such as of Terebridae and Turridae superfamilies attracted less interest so far. Here, we report the effects of venom and gland extracts from three species of the superfamily Terebridae. By 2-electrode voltage-clamp technique the gland extracts were tested on Xenopus oocytes expressing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) of rat neuronal (α3β2, α3β4, α4β2, α4β4, α7) and muscle subtypes (α1β1γδ), and expressing potassium (Kv1.2 and Kv1.3) and sodium channels (Nav1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.6). The extracts were shown to exhibit remarkably high inhibitory activities on almost all nAChRs tested, in particular on the α7 subtype suggesting the presence of peptides of the A-superfamily from the venom of Conus species. In contrast, no effects on the potassium and sodium channels tested were observed. The venoms of terebrid snails may offer an additional source of novel biologically active peptides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
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Open AccessArticle Removal of Toxin (Tetrodotoxin) from Puffer Ovary by Traditional Fermentation
Toxins 2013, 5(1), 193-202; doi:10.3390/toxins5010193
Received: 12 December 2012 / Revised: 10 January 2013 / Accepted: 11 January 2013 / Published: 18 January 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (480 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The amounts of puffer toxin (tetrodotoxin, TTX) extracted from the fresh and the traditional Japanese salted and fermented “Nukazuke and “Kasuzuke ovaries of Takifugu stictonotus (T. stictonotus) were quantitatively analyzed in the voltage-dependent sodium current (I
[...] Read more.
The amounts of puffer toxin (tetrodotoxin, TTX) extracted from the fresh and the traditional Japanese salted and fermented “Nukazuke and “Kasuzuke ovaries of Takifugu stictonotus (T. stictonotus) were quantitatively analyzed in the voltage-dependent sodium current (INa) recorded from mechanically dissociated single rat hippocampal CA1 neurons. The amount of TTX contained in “Nukazuke” and “Kasuzuke ovaries decreased to 1/50–1/90 times of that of fresh ovary during a salted and successive fermented period over a few years. The final toxin concentration after fermentation was almost close to the TTX level extracted from T. Rubripes” fresh muscle that is normally eaten. It was concluded that the fermented “Nukazuke and “Kasuzuke” ovaries of puffer fish T. Stictonotus are safe and harmless as food. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
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Open AccessArticle Differences in Susceptibility to Okadaic Acid, a Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning Toxin, between Male and Female Mice
Toxins 2013, 5(1), 9-15; doi:10.3390/toxins5010009
Received: 8 November 2012 / Revised: 14 December 2012 / Accepted: 21 December 2012 / Published: 27 December 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (171 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The mouse bioassay (MBA) for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) toxins has been widely used in many countries of the world. In the Japanese and EU methods, male mice are designated to be used for MBA. Female mice were described to be less susceptible
[...] Read more.
The mouse bioassay (MBA) for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) toxins has been widely used in many countries of the world. In the Japanese and EU methods, male mice are designated to be used for MBA. Female mice were described to be less susceptible than male mice. To the best of our knowledge, however, there have been no reports on the details of sex differences in susceptibility to DSP toxins. In this study, we investigated whether, and to what extent, female mice are less sensitive to DSP toxins. A lethal dose of okadaic acid (OA), one of the representative DSP toxins, was injected intraperitoneally into mice. The mice were observed until 24 hours after injection. Both male and female mice of ICR and ddY strains, which are designated in the Japanese official method, were compared. All the mice were four weeks old and weighed 18–20 g. The experiments were repeated twice. The lethality was 70%–100%. Survival analysis showed no sex differences in susceptibility to OA, but ICR female mice showed significant resistance compared with other groups in one out of two trials. These results indicate that sex differences were not clear but, nonetheless, male mice showed more stable results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
Open AccessArticle Nodularin Exposure Induces SOD1 Phosphorylation and Disrupts SOD1 Co-localization with Actin Filaments
Toxins 2012, 4(12), 1482-1499; doi:10.3390/toxins4121482
Received: 27 September 2012 / Revised: 30 November 2012 / Accepted: 6 December 2012 / Published: 14 December 2012
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Abstract
Apoptotic cell death is induced in primary hepatocytes by the Ser/Thr protein phosphatase inhibiting cyanobacterial toxin nodularin after only minutes of exposure. Nodularin-induced apoptosis involves a rapid development of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can be delayed by the Ca2+/calmodulin protein
[...] Read more.
Apoptotic cell death is induced in primary hepatocytes by the Ser/Thr protein phosphatase inhibiting cyanobacterial toxin nodularin after only minutes of exposure. Nodularin-induced apoptosis involves a rapid development of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can be delayed by the Ca2+/calmodulin protein kinase II inhibitor KN93. This apoptosis model provides us with a unique population of highly synchronized dying cells, making it possible to identify low abundant phosphoproteins participating in apoptosis signaling. Here, we show that nodularin induces phosphorylation and possibly also cysteine oxidation of the antioxidant Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1), without altering enzymatic SOD1 activity. The observed post-translational modifications of SOD1 could be regulated by Ca2+/calmodulin protein kinase II. In untreated hepatocytes, a high concentration of SOD1 was found in the sub-membranous area, co-localized with the cortical actin cytoskeleton. In the early phase of nodularin exposure, SOD1 was found in high concentration in evenly distributed apoptotic buds. Nodularin induced a rapid reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton and, at the time of polarized budding, SOD1 and actin filaments no longer co-localized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
Open AccessArticle Short Toxin-like Proteins Abound in Cnidaria Genomes
Toxins 2012, 4(11), 1367-1384; doi:10.3390/toxins4111367
Received: 24 September 2012 / Revised: 8 November 2012 / Accepted: 9 November 2012 / Published: 16 November 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (842 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cnidaria is a rich phylum that includes thousands of marine species. In this study, we focused on Anthozoa and Hydrozoa that are represented by the Nematostella vectensis (Sea anemone) and Hydra magnipapillata genomes. We present a method for ranking the toxin-like candidates from
[...] Read more.
Cnidaria is a rich phylum that includes thousands of marine species. In this study, we focused on Anthozoa and Hydrozoa that are represented by the Nematostella vectensis (Sea anemone) and Hydra magnipapillata genomes. We present a method for ranking the toxin-like candidates from complete proteomes of Cnidaria. Toxin-like functions were revealed using ClanTox, a statistical machine-learning predictor trained on ion channel inhibitors from venomous animals. Fundamental features that were emphasized in training ClanTox include cysteines and their spacing along the sequences. Among the 83,000 proteins derived from Cnidaria representatives, we found 170 candidates that fulfill the properties of toxin-like-proteins, the vast majority of which were previously unrecognized as toxins. An additional 394 short proteins exhibit characteristics of toxin-like proteins at a moderate degree of confidence. Remarkably, only 11% of the predicted toxin-like proteins were previously classified as toxins. Based on our prediction methodology and manual annotation, we inferred functions for over 400 of these proteins. Such functions include protease inhibitors, membrane pore formation, ion channel blockers and metal binding proteins. Many of the proteins belong to small families of paralogs. We conclude that the evolutionary expansion of toxin-like proteins in Cnidaria contributes to their fitness in the complex environment of the aquatic ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
Open AccessArticle Comparative Study of Various Immune Parameters in Three Bivalve Species during a Natural Bloom of Dinophysis acuminata in Santa Catarina Island, Brazil
Toxins 2010, 2(5), 1166-1178; doi:10.3390/toxins2051166
Received: 12 April 2010 / Revised: 7 May 2010 / Accepted: 18 May 2010 / Published: 25 May 2010
Cited by 19 | PDF Full-text (602 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study aimed to verify if Dinophysis acuminata natural blooms affected the immune system of three bivalves: the oyster, Crassostrea gigas, the mussel, Perna perna, and the clam, Anomalocardia brasiliana. Animals were obtained from a renowned mariculture farm in the
[...] Read more.
This study aimed to verify if Dinophysis acuminata natural blooms affected the immune system of three bivalves: the oyster, Crassostrea gigas, the mussel, Perna perna, and the clam, Anomalocardia brasiliana. Animals were obtained from a renowned mariculture farm in the southern bay of Santa Catarina Island during, and 30 days after (controls), an algal bloom. Various immunological parameters were assessed in the hemolymph of the animals: total and differential hemocyte counts, percentage of apoptotic hemocytes, protein concentration, hemagglutinating titer and phenoloxidase activity. The results showed that the mussel was the most affected species, with several altered immune parameters, whereas the immunological profile of clams and oysters was partially and completely unaffected, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)

Review

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Open AccessReview Highly Toxic Ribbon Worm Cephalothrix simula Containing Tetrodotoxin in Hiroshima Bay, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Toxins 2013, 5(2), 376-395; doi:10.3390/toxins5020376
Received: 28 November 2012 / Revised: 30 January 2013 / Accepted: 7 February 2013 / Published: 20 February 2013
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (758 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In 1998, during a toxicological surveillance of various marine fouling organisms in Hiroshima Bay, Japan, specimens of the ribbon worm, Cephalothrix simula (Nemertea: Palaeonemertea) were found. These ribbon worms contained toxins with extremely strong paralytic activity. The maximum toxicity in terms of tetrodotoxin
[...] Read more.
In 1998, during a toxicological surveillance of various marine fouling organisms in Hiroshima Bay, Japan, specimens of the ribbon worm, Cephalothrix simula (Nemertea: Palaeonemertea) were found. These ribbon worms contained toxins with extremely strong paralytic activity. The maximum toxicity in terms of tetrodotoxin (TTX) was 25,590 mouse units (MU) per gram for the whole worm throughout the monitoring period. The main toxic component was isolated and recrystallized from an acidified methanolic solution. The crystalline with a specific toxicity of 3520 MU/mg was obtained and identified as TTX by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-fluorescent detection (FLD) (HPLC-FLD), electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), infrared (IR), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The highest toxicity of C. simula exceeded the human lethal dose per a single worm. A toxicological surveillance of C. simula from 1998 to 2005 indicated approximately 80% of the individuals were ranked as “strongly toxic” (≥1000 MU/g). Forty-eight percent of the specimens possessed toxicity scores of more than 2000 MU/g. Seasonal variations were observed in the lethal potency of C. simula. Specimens collected on January 13, 2000 to December 26, 2000 showed mean toxicities of 665–5300 MU/g (n = 10). These data prompted a toxicological surveillance of ribbon worms from other localities with different habitats in Japan, including Akkeshi Bay (Hokkaido) under stones on rocky intertidal beaches, as well as Otsuchi (Iwate) among calcareous tubes of serpulid polychaetes on rocky shores. Within twelve species of ribbon worms examined, only C. simula possessed extremely high toxicity. Therefore, C. simula appears to show generally high toxicity irrespective of their locality and habitat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
Open AccessReview Is Protein Phosphatase Inhibition Responsible for the Toxic Effects of Okadaic Acid in Animals?
Toxins 2013, 5(2), 267-285; doi:10.3390/toxins5020267
Received: 6 November 2012 / Revised: 8 January 2013 / Accepted: 24 January 2013 / Published: 4 February 2013
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (231 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Okadaic acid (OA) and its derivatives, which are produced by dinoflagellates of the genera Prorocentrum and Dinophysis, are responsible for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning in humans. In laboratory animals, these toxins cause epithelial damage and fluid accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract, and at
[...] Read more.
Okadaic acid (OA) and its derivatives, which are produced by dinoflagellates of the genera Prorocentrum and Dinophysis, are responsible for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning in humans. In laboratory animals, these toxins cause epithelial damage and fluid accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract, and at high doses, they cause death. These substances have also been shown to be tumour promoters, and when injected into the brains of rodents, OA induces neuronal damage reminiscent of that seen in Alzheimer’s disease. OA and certain of its derivatives are potent inhibitors of protein phosphatases, which play many roles in cellular metabolism. In 1990, it was suggested that inhibition of these enzymes was responsible for the diarrhetic effect of these toxins. It is now repeatedly stated in the literature that protein phosphatase inhibition is not only responsible for the intestinal effects of OA and derivatives, but also for their acute toxic effects, their tumour promoting activity and their neuronal toxicity. In the present review, the evidence for the involvement of protein phosphatase inhibition in the induction of the toxic effects of OA and its derivatives is examined, with the conclusion that the mechanism of toxicity of these substances requires re-evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
Open AccessReview Diversity and Impact of Prokaryotic Toxins on Aquatic Environments: A Review
Toxins 2010, 2(10), 2359-2410; doi:10.3390/toxins2102359
Received: 21 August 2010 / Revised: 1 October 2010 / Accepted: 13 October 2010 / Published: 18 October 2010
Cited by 25 | PDF Full-text (1199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Microorganisms are ubiquitous in all habitats and are recognized by their metabolic versatility and ability to produce many bioactive compounds, including toxins. Some of the most common toxins present in water are produced by several cyanobacterial species. As a result, their blooms create
[...] Read more.
Microorganisms are ubiquitous in all habitats and are recognized by their metabolic versatility and ability to produce many bioactive compounds, including toxins. Some of the most common toxins present in water are produced by several cyanobacterial species. As a result, their blooms create major threats to animal and human health, tourism, recreation and aquaculture. Quite a few cyanobacterial toxins have been described, including hepatotoxins, neurotoxins, cytotoxins and dermatotoxins. These toxins are secondary metabolites, presenting a vast diversity of structures and variants. Most of cyanobacterial secondary metabolites are peptides or have peptidic substructures and are assumed to be synthesized by non-ribosomal peptide synthesis (NRPS), involving peptide synthetases, or NRPS/PKS, involving peptide synthetases and polyketide synthases hybrid pathways. Besides cyanobacteria, other bacteria associated with aquatic environments are recognized as significant toxin producers, representing important issues in food safety, public health, and human and animal well being. Vibrio species are one of the most representative groups of aquatic toxin producers, commonly associated with seafood-born infections. Some enterotoxins and hemolysins have been identified as fundamental for V. cholerae and V. vulnificus pathogenesis, but there is evidence for the existence of other potential toxins. Campylobacter spp. and Escherichia coli are also water contaminants and are able to produce important toxins after infecting their hosts. Other bacteria associated with aquatic environments are emerging as toxin producers, namely Legionella pneumophila and Aeromonas hydrophila, described as responsible for the synthesis of several exotoxins, enterotoxins and cytotoxins. Furthermore, several Clostridium species can produce potent neurotoxins. Although not considered aquatic microorganisms, they are ubiquitous in the environment and can easily contaminate drinking and irrigation water. Clostridium members are also spore-forming bacteria and can persist in hostile environmental conditions for long periods of time, contributing to their hazard grade. Similarly, Pseudomonas species are widespread in the environment. Since P. aeruginosa is an emergent opportunistic pathogen, its toxins may represent new hazards for humans and animals. This review presents an overview of the diversity of toxins produced by prokaryotic microorganisms associated with aquatic habitats and their impact on environment, life and health of humans and other animals. Moreover, important issues like the availability of these toxins in the environment, contamination sources and pathways, genes involved in their biosynthesis and molecular mechanisms of some representative toxins are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
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Open AccessReview Synthetic α-Conotoxin Mutants as Probes for Studying Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors and in the Development of Novel Drug Leads
Toxins 2010, 2(6), 1471-1499; doi:10.3390/toxins2061471
Received: 1 April 2010 / Revised: 27 May 2010 / Accepted: 11 June 2010 / Published: 14 June 2010
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (831 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
α-Conotoxins are peptide neurotoxins isolated from venomous marine cone snails that are potent and selective antagonists for different subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). As such, they are valuable probes for dissecting the role that nAChRs play in nervous system function. In recent
[...] Read more.
α-Conotoxins are peptide neurotoxins isolated from venomous marine cone snails that are potent and selective antagonists for different subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). As such, they are valuable probes for dissecting the role that nAChRs play in nervous system function. In recent years, extensive insight into the binding mechanisms of α-conotoxins with nAChRs at the molecular level has aided in the design of synthetic analogs with improved pharmacological properties. This review examines the structure-activity relationship studies involving α-conotoxins as research tools for studying nAChRs in the central and peripheral nervous systems and their use towards the development of novel therapeutics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
Open AccessReview AIP56: A Novel Bacterial Apoptogenic Toxin
Toxins 2010, 2(4), 905-918; doi:10.3390/toxins2040905
Received: 31 March 2010 / Revised: 16 April 2010 / Accepted: 22 April 2010 / Published: 26 April 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (342 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida (Phdp) is a Gram-negative pathogen agent of an important fish septicemia. The key virulence factor of Phdp is the plasmid-encoded exotoxin AIP56, which is secreted by exponentially growing pathogenic strains. AIP56 has 520 amino acids including an
[...] Read more.
Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida (Phdp) is a Gram-negative pathogen agent of an important fish septicemia. The key virulence factor of Phdp is the plasmid-encoded exotoxin AIP56, which is secreted by exponentially growing pathogenic strains. AIP56 has 520 amino acids including an N-terminal cleavable signal peptide of 23 amino acid residues, two cysteine residues and a zinc-binding region signature HEXXH that is typical of most zinc metallopeptidases. AIP56 induces in vitro and in vivo selective apoptosis of fish macrophages and neutrophils through a caspase-3 dependent mechanism that also involves caspase-8 and -9. In vivo, the AIP56-induced phagocyte apoptosis progresses to secondary necrosis with release of cytotoxic phagocyte molecules including neutrophil elastase. Fish injected with recombinant AIP56 die with a pathology similar to that seen in the natural infection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)
Open AccessReview Marine Toxins: Chemistry, Toxicity, Occurrence and Detection, with Special Reference to the Dutch Situation
Toxins 2010, 2(4), 878-904; doi:10.3390/toxins2040878
Received: 30 March 2010 / Revised: 14 April 2010 / Accepted: 22 April 2010 / Published: 23 April 2010
Cited by 39 | PDF Full-text (675 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Various species of algae can produce marine toxins under certain circumstances. These toxins can then accumulate in shellfish such as mussels, oysters and scallops. When these contaminated shellfish species are consumed severe intoxication can occur. The different types of syndromes that can occur
[...] Read more.
Various species of algae can produce marine toxins under certain circumstances. These toxins can then accumulate in shellfish such as mussels, oysters and scallops. When these contaminated shellfish species are consumed severe intoxication can occur. The different types of syndromes that can occur after consumption of contaminated shellfish, the corresponding toxins and relevant legislation are discussed in this review. Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP), Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), Diarrheic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) and Azaspiracid Shellfish Poisoning (AZP) occur worldwide, Neurologic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) is mainly limited to the USA and New Zealand while the toxins causing DSP and AZP occur most frequently in Europe. The latter two toxin groups are fat-soluble and can therefore also be classified as lipophilic marine toxins. A detailed overview of the official analytical methods used in the EU (mouse or rat bioassay) and the recently developed alternative methods for the lipophilic marine toxins is given. These alternative methods are based on functional assays, biochemical assays and chemical methods. From the literature it is clear that chemical methods offer the best potential to replace the animal tests that are still legislated worldwide. Finally, an overview is given of the situation of marine toxins in The Netherlands. The rat bioassay has been used for monitoring DSP and AZP toxins in The Netherlands since the 1970s. Nowadays, a combination of a chemical method and the rat bioassay is often used. In The Netherlands toxic events are mainly caused by DSP toxins, which have been found in Dutch shellfish for the first time in 1961, and have reoccurred at irregular intervals and in varying concentrations. From this review it is clear that considerable effort is being undertaken by various research groups to phase out the animal tests that are still used for the official routine monitoring programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins from Aquatic Organisms)

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