Quantification of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis spp. by qPCR assay in marine aerosol
- A. Penna
- Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013,
Anecdotal reports exist of aquarium hobbyists that experienced severe respiratory distress and/or skin injury following cleaning operation of home aquaria containing Palythoa sp. soft corals. Hundreds of cases of respiratory illness and/or dermatitis have been recorded in proximity to the sea concomitantly with algal blooms of Ostreopsis spp. in the Mediterranean area. Both Palythoa spp. and Ostreopsis spp. contain congeners of palytoxin, a highly potent toxin whose inhalation hazard is however unknown. In this study, we demonstrate the presence of high levels of palytoxins (palytoxin and hydroxypalytoxin) in both soft coral and seawater from a home marine aquarium involved in the poisoning of a whole family. Due to the high toxin levels found in seawater, a procedure for a rapid and efficient determination of palytoxin in seawater was setup. A comparison of symptoms of Palythoa- and Ostreopsis-related inhalatory poisonings showed many similarities including fever, respiratory distress, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. From the chemical and symptomatological data reported herein it is reasonable to hold palytoxins responsible for respiratory disorders following inhalation. Although the exact mechanism through which palytoxin congeners exert their inhalatory toxicity is still unknown, this represents a step toward demonstrating that palytoxin congeners exert toxic effects through inhalation both in natural environments and in the surroundings of private and public aquaria.