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Mar. Drugs 2010, 8(3), 678-704;

Prymnesins: Toxic Metabolites of the Golden Alga, Prymnesium parvum Carter (Haptophyta)

Section of MCD Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A6700, Austin, Texas 78712, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 January 2010 / Revised: 9 March 2010 / Accepted: 10 March 2010 / Published: 16 March 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Algal Toxins)
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Increasingly over the past century, seasonal fish kills associated with toxic blooms of Prymnesium parvum have devastated aquaculture and native fish, shellfish, and mollusk populations worldwide. Protracted blooms of P. parvum can result in major disturbances to the local ecology and extensive monetary losses. Toxicity of this alga is attributed to a collection of compounds known as prymnesins, which exhibit potent cytotoxic, hemolytic, neurotoxic and ichthyotoxic effects. These secondary metabolites are especially damaging to gill-breathing organisms and they are believed to interact directly with plasma membranes, compromising integrity by permitting ion leakage. Several factors appear to function in the activation and potency of prymnesins including salinity, pH, ion availability, and growth phase. Prymnesins may function as defense compounds to prevent herbivory and some investigations suggest that they have allelopathic roles. Since the last extensive review was published, two prymnesins have been chemically characterized and ongoing investigations are aimed at the purification and analysis of numerous other toxic metabolites from this alga. More information is needed to unravel the mechanisms of prymnesin synthesis and the significance of these metabolites. Such work should greatly improve our limited understanding of the physiology and biochemistry of P. parvum and how to mitigate its blooms. View Full-Text
Keywords: harmful algal blooms (HAB); ichthyotoxins; prymnesins; Prymnesium parvum; polyketides harmful algal blooms (HAB); ichthyotoxins; prymnesins; Prymnesium parvum; polyketides

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Manning, S.R.; La Claire, J.W., II. Prymnesins: Toxic Metabolites of the Golden Alga, Prymnesium parvum Carter (Haptophyta). Mar. Drugs 2010, 8, 678-704.

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