Warning Lights Mark Shellfish That Aren't Safe To Eat
Red tides and similar blooms can render some seafood unsafe to eat, though it can be difficult to tell whether a particular batch harbors toxins that cause food poisoning.
Blue specks rimming these dinoflagellates mark bacteria that are helping to produce dangerous toxins.
A new kind of marker developed by chemists at the University of California, San Diego, and reported in the journal ChemComm makes it easier to see if shellfish are filled with toxin-producing organisms.
Mussels and oysters accumulate single-celled marine creatures called dinoflagellates in their digestive systems as they filter seawater for food. Usually dinoflagellates are harmless, but sometimes they produce dangerous toxins. The trick is figuring out when.
Scientists think symbiotic bacteria that live on the surface of dinoflagellates probably help synthesize the toxins, but no one is sure how. Genetic tools often used to sort out such relationships don’t work for dinoflagellates, which have enormous genomes that are not well understood.
So chemistry professor Michael Burkhart’s group took a different approach. They set up a system to add a fluorescent tag to an enzyme that makes one kind of toxin, okadaic acid, but with a twist. By handing the tag to a the molecule that turns the enzyme on, they ensured that only those parts of cells that are capable of making the toxin would glow.
Specks glow brightly on the surface of dinoflagellates incubated with both the marker and symbiotic bacteria, and the toxin accumulates in the culture. Those lights go off, and toxin production ceases, if the chemists add antibiotics to the mix.
You can't tell by looking whether a mussel is safe to eat.
The new marker proved useful in live mussels as well. Their guts glowed with toxin-producing dinoflagellates even before the poison transferred to the mussel tissue itself.
This technique may could be the basis of an early warning system for aquaculturists and in theory it could lower the risk of shellfish poisoning.
Right now, the method requires a relatively expensive fluroscence microscope to view the tagged cells, but Burkhart’s team is optimistic that rapidly developing technology will soon make the tag easy to detect with a handheld device.
The National Institute of General Medical Science and the American Chemical Society funded this project.
Susan Brown: (858) 246-0161 or email@example.com
Susan Brown | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...