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The Epiphytic Genus Gambierdiscus (Dinophyceae) in the Kermadec Islands and Zealandia Regions of the Southwestern Pacific and the Associated Risk of Ciguatera Fish Poisoning
Open AccessFeature PaperShort Note

Molecular Identification of Gambierdiscus and Fukuyoa (Dinophyceae) from Environmental Samples

Coastal & Freshwater Group, Cawthron Institute, Private Bag 2, 98 Halifax Street East, Nelson 7042, New Zealand
School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, 20 Kirkwood Avenue, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
Auckland War Memorial Museum, Private Bag 92018, Victoria Street West, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Ministry of Fisheries, P.O. Box 871, Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Mar. Drugs 2017, 15(8), 243;
Received: 30 March 2017 / Revised: 11 July 2017 / Accepted: 28 July 2017 / Published: 2 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Harmful Marine Phytoplankton)
Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP) is increasing across the Pacific and the distribution of the causative dinoflagellates appears to be expanding. Subtle differences in thecal plate morphology are used to distinguish dinoflagellate species, which are difficult to determine using light microscopy. For these reasons we sought to develop a Quantitative PCR assay that would detect all species from both Gambierdiscus and Fukuyoa genera in order to rapidly screen environmental samples for potentially toxic species. Additionally, a specific assay for F. paulensis was developed as this species is of concern in New Zealand coastal waters. Using the assays we analyzed 31 samples from three locations around New Zealand and the Kingdom of Tonga. Fourteen samples in total were positive for Gambierdiscus/Fukuyoa and two samples were also positive using the F. paulensis assay. Samples from the Kermadec Islands were further characterized using high-throughput sequencing metabarcoding. The majority of reads corresponded to Gambierdiscus species with three species identified at all sites (G. australes, G. honu and G. polynesiensis). This is the first confirmed identification of G. polynesiensis, a known ciguatoxin producer, in New Zealand waters. Other known toxin-producing genera were also detected, included Alexandrium, Amphidinium, Azadinium, Dinophysis, Ostreopsis, and Prorocentrum. View Full-Text
Keywords: Quantitative PCR (QPCR); high-throughput sequencing metabarcoding; benthic dinoflagellates; Kermadec Islands; New Zealand; Kingdom of Tonga Quantitative PCR (QPCR); high-throughput sequencing metabarcoding; benthic dinoflagellates; Kermadec Islands; New Zealand; Kingdom of Tonga
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Smith, K.F.; Biessy, L.; Argyle, P.A.; Trnski, T.; Halafihi, T.; Rhodes, L.L. Molecular Identification of Gambierdiscus and Fukuyoa (Dinophyceae) from Environmental Samples. Mar. Drugs 2017, 15, 243.

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