Making Waves: Powerful Fish-Killing Toxin May Lead to Human Health Benefits (Episode 36)
In 2002, a mysterious disease began killing fish at a commercial aquaculture facility in North Carolina. Lots of fish. Over 21,000 striped bass died during the outbreak. At the time, no one knew what caused this massive fish kill. Why did it happen? Would it happen again?
We now know that the culprit behind the fish kills is a type of freshwater algae called Euglena sanguinea, thanks to research led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA back in 2004.
At the time this was a big surprise. Euglena is very well documented. In fact, it’s been known since 1830. It was just that everyone thought that it was harmless. Well, it turns out that, under the right conditions, Euglena can produce a potent, very deadly toxin.
Today we’re going to take a look at a new study led by the same two scientists from NOAA and the USDA from the 2004 breakthrough, and it takes what we know about this toxin one step further – and in a surprising direction.
See also: Phytoplankton Toxin Kills Cancer Cells