Food Web Transfer, Toxicity and Detoxification of a Cyanobacterial Toxin


Thursday July 14, 2011
Redfield Auditorium - 12:00 Noon
Dr. Juliette Smith
Postdoctoral Investigator, WHOI Department of Biology
co-sponsored event with CINAR

Microcystins (MCs) are the most common class of freshwater cyanobacterial toxins and exposure has led to the death of aquatic and terrestrial animals, including humans.  Most research and regulation to date has focused on cyanobacterial toxins in drinking and recreational water as these are assumed to be the main route of exposure for humans. In this work, however, zooplankton and fish were identified, in a field and laboratory study, as potential vectors of the potent hepatotoxin and carcinogen to higher trophic levels. These results provide a first look into the potential bioavailability of two pools of microcystins, covalently-bound and unbound toxin, to transfer up the food web, and suggest that these sources of exposure should be included in calculations of risk to higher trophic levels (e.g., piscivorous fish) and humans.  Additionally, mechanisms for detoxification and toxicity within the vectors will be discussed.