Researchers from the Institut Louis MalardÃ¨ (ILM) in French Polynesia visited the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research (CCFHR) to gain expertise on working with Harmful Algal Bloom species. Dr. Mireille Chinain and Dr. Taiana Darius completed eleven days of training on the method and technique of cytotoxicity assays to detect ciguatoxins (CTXs) and maitotoxins (MTXs) in fish tissue and cell cultures. CCFHR scientists also provided guidance on field sampling techniques for HAB species. The French Polynesian researchers and NCCOS are collaborating on the study of CFP-related algae with the aim of developing a better understanding of growth and toxin production in these organisms along with methods to monitor for these species in remote island nations.
In return, NCCOS will receive purified toxin standards from ILM to calibrate analytical instrumentation to better detect low levels of CTX. These specific standards are synthesized fromalgal cultures that are maintained in Tahiti using a capacity to produce pure toxins that the NCCOS labs do not have.
NCCOS and ILM researchers have been collaborating to answer a significant unresolved question in ciguatera research: why fish in the Caribbean and Pacific accumulate different ciguatoxin congeners. One possibility is the dominant toxin producing species are producing different types of ciguatoxin. The P- CTX-3B, P- CTX-3C and P- CTX-4A toxin standards will be used to analyse extracts from Caribbean Gambierdiscus isolates to determine if they are indeed producing the same or different toxins. This workis part of a long standing relationship between NCCOS andILM lasting over a decade.