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A new Gambierdiscus species (Dinophyceae) from Rarotonga, Cook Islands: Gambierdiscus cheloniae sp. nov
- Smith, Kirsty F., Rhodes, Lesley, Verma, Arjun, Curley, Belinda G., Harwood, D.Tim, Kohli, Gurjeet S., Solomona, Dorothy, Rongo, Teina, Munday, Rex, Murray, Shauna A.
- Harmful algae 2016 v.60 pp. 45-56
- Gambierdiscus, algae, ciguatera, ciguatoxin, genes, genetic similarity, maitotoxin, mice, new species, phylogeny, toxicity, Cook Islands
- Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) has been reported for many years in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, and has had the world’s highest reported incidence of this illness for the last 20 years. Following intensive sampling to understand the distribution of the causative organisms of CFP, an undescribed Gambierdiscus species was isolated from the Rarotongan lagoon. Gambierdiscus cheloniae sp. nov. has the common Gambierdiscus Kofoidian plate formula (except for a variability in the number of precingular plates in aberrant cells): Po, 3′, 6″ (7″), 6C?, 6 or 7S, 5′″, 1p and 2″″. The 2′ plate is hatchet shaped and the dorsal end of 1p is pointed and the relatively narrow 1p plate. Morphologically G. cheloniae is similar to the genetically closely related species G. pacificus, G. toxicus and G. belizeanus, although smaller (depth and length) than G. toxicus. The apical pore plate varies from those of G. belizeanus and G. pacificus, which are shorter and narrower, and from G. toxicus, which is larger. G. cheloniae also differs from G. pacificus in the shape of the 2′ plate. The description of this new species is supported by phylogenetic analyses using three different gene regions. G. cheloniae produced the putative maitotoxin-3 analogue, MTX-3, but neither maitotoxin or monitored ciguatoxin. Extracts of G. cheloniae were shown to be highly toxic to mice by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection, although they were less toxic by gavage. It is possible that this species produces toxins other than putative MTX-3.