5th International Conference on Prevention and Management of Harmful Algal Blooms in the South China Sea (HABSCS – 2012)
HABSCS-2012 convenes in Macau on 29 March and Pat Tester has been invited to give a plenary talk entitled “The Accidental Taxonomists and the Resurgence of Gambierdiscus Research”.
Gambierdiscus is the dinoflagellate genus identified most closely with the production of ciguatoxins and the symptoms of ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP). While CFP has not had the attention or visibility of other HAB related illnesses, it claims more victims than all other HAB caused illnesses combined.
Unfortunately, both tools and strategies for routine monitoring for CFP or Gambierdiscus abundance have not been developed in endemic areas. In part, this is because both the cells and ciguatoxins are difficult to detect and quantify.
We have mapped the traditional morphological descriptions of the species to molecular sequence data and put the taxonomy on a firm foundation. With the ground work in place we are working towards being able to detect and quantify Gambierdiscus species. Quantitative PCR assays have now been developed for Gambierdiscus species and these new tools provide support for monitoring strategies to reduce the global risk of CFP.