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An investigation into ciguatoxin bioaccumulation in sharks

journal contribution
posted on 11.05.2021, 23:07 by Lauren Meyer, Angela CapperAngela Capper, Steve Carter, Colin Simpfendorfer
Ciguatoxins (CTXs) produced by benthic Gambierdiscus dinoflagellates, readily biotransform and bioaccumulate in food chains ultimately bioconcentrating in high-order, carnivorous marine species. Certain shark species, often feeding at, or near the top of the food-chain have the ability to bioaccumulate a suite of toxins, from both anthropogenic and algal sources. As such, these apex predators are likely sinks for CTXs. This assumption, in conjunction with anecdotal knowledge of poisoning incidents, several non-specific feeding trials whereby various terrestrial animals were fed suspect fish flesh, and a single incident in Madagascar in 1994, have resulted in the widespread acceptance that sharks may accumulate CTXs. This prompted a study to investigate original claims within the literature, as well as investigate CTX bioaccumulation in the muscle and liver of 22 individual sharks from nine species, across four locations along the east coast of Australia. Utilizing an updated ciguatoxin extraction method with HPLC-MS/MS, we were unable to detect P-CTX-1, P-CTX-2 or P-CTX-3, the three primary CTX congeners, in muscle or liver samples. We propose four theories to address this finding: (1) to date, methods have been optimized for teleost species and may not be appropriate for elasmobranchs, or the CTXs may be below the limit of detection; (2) CTX may be biotransformed into elasmobranch-specific congeners as a result of unique metabolic properties; (3) 22 individuals may be an inadequate sample size given the rare occurrence of high-order ciguatoxic organisms and potential for CTX depuration; and (4) the ephemeral nature and inconsistent toxin profiles of Gambierdiscus blooms may have undermined our classifications of certain areas as CTX hotspots. These results, in combination with the lack of clarity within the literature, suggest that ciguatoxin bioaccumulation in sharks remains elusive, and warrants further investigation to determine the dynamics of toxin production, accumulation and transformation throughout the entire food-web. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Funding

Category 3 - Industry and Other Research Income

History

Volume

119

Start Page

234

End Page

243

Number of Pages

10

eISSN

1879-3150

ISSN

0041-0101

Location

England

Publisher

Elsevier

Language

eng

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

Acceptance Date

07/06/2016

External Author Affiliations

Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services; James Cook University

Era Eligible

Yes

Medium

Print-Electronic

Journal

Toxicon