Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Screening the toxicity and toxin content of blooms of the cyanobacterium Trichodesmium erythraeum (Ehrenberg) in northeast Brasil

a, LAOa, LAOTamanaha, MSFonseca, RS

Blooms of the cyanobacterium Trichodesmium occur in massive colored patches over large areas of tropical and subtropical oceans. Recently, the interest in such events has increased given their role in major nitrogen and carbon dioxide oceanic fluxes. Trichodesmium occurs all along the Brazilian coast and patches frequently migrate towards the coast. In this paper we screen the toxicity and toxin content of Trichodesmium blooms off the coast of Bahia state. Four samples, collected from February to April 2007, were analyzed. Organisms were identified and assessed for toxicity by means of several methods. Analogues of microcystins, cylindrospermopsins and saxitoxins were analyzed using HPLC. Microcystins were also assayed through ELISA. Results showed dominance of T. erythraeum, which makes up as much as 99% of cell counts. Other organisms found in smaller quantities include the dinoflagellates Prorocentrum minimum and P. rhathymum. Extracts from all samples delayed or interrupted sea urchin larval development, but presented no acute toxicity during a mouse bioassay. Saxitoxin congeners and microcystins were present at low concentrations in all samples, occurrences that had not previously been reported in the literature. Despite our finding of saxitoxin analogues and microcystins in Trichodesmium blooms, these toxins do not represent a potential harm to human health by primary contact. We conclude, based on our results and those reported in the recent literature, which differ from results published in 1963, that although toxins are present, there is no evidence that T. erythraeum blooms represent a threat to humans.

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