A team of experts has refuted previous findings published last summer stating that Pfiesteria is not toxic to fish or humans. When they cultured the same strain of P. shumwayae studied by the dissenting scientists, it produced a toxin that killed fish within minutes.
Dr. JoAnn Burkholder, director of North Carolina State Universitys Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology, presented the results of the new study Tuesday at the 10th International Conference on Harmful Algae in St. Petersburg, Fla. The findings are significant because they reconfirm a decade of research showing that Pfiesteria is a dangerous toxic organism.
Last summers papers had been critical of work by Burkholder and other scientists who discovered Pfiesteria and described its life cycle and toxic impacts on fish and mammals. However, the dissenting scientists work was based primarily on research with one strain. In the new study three laboratories, assisted in toxin analysis by a fourth "blind" lab, have shown that this allegedly nontoxic strain does produce toxin after all. Burkholder said that their teams results differed because they grew the culture under conditions that allowed it to express toxicity.
Dr. JoAnn Burkholder | EurekAlert!
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