SPAIN : ANFACO-CECOPESCA is working on the development of a methodology for the detection in seawater of several species of microalgae that produce toxins.
The association of Spanish canners participates in a project that has among its main objectives the detection of microalgae of the genus Ostreopsis, responsible for the accumulation of certain toxins in marine organisms such as fish and molluscs.
The species of microalgae of the genus Ostreopsis produce palitoxin and various derivatives, which can accumulate in aquatic organisms that feed on phytoplankton, as is the case of bivalve molluscs. They are characteristic of tropical zones, but they are experiencing a geographical expansion associated with global warming.
When molluscs contaminated with these toxins are consumed above the tolerable dose, they can cause symptoms such as myalgias, generalized weakness accompanied sometimes by fever, nausea and vomiting. Therefore, it is essential to continue working on the prevention and control of these toxic episodes in order to guarantee totally safe marine products.
Thus, one this work´s main objectives is the establishment of a molecular methodology that allows detecting various species of phytoplankton producing toxins of the genus Ostreopsis: O. siamensis and O. ovata. This tool is based on the real-time PCR technique (qPCR), which allows sensitive and rapid detection, and will be applied to water samples collected throughout the entire year-long project at points along the coasts of Galicia, Catalonia, Andalusia and Valencia.
The project has the support of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, through the Biodiversity Foundation and its call for grants for the realization of projects on adaptation to climate change 2017.
In addition to the control of Ostreopsis in water, other issues related to the emergence of emerging toxins associated with climate change are studied. Among these, the potential risk that certain toxins, which are not usually part of the control programs of aquaculture zones, may accumulate in edible marine invertebrates and affect the consumer. Thus, in addition to the presence of palitoxin, the presence of tetrodotoxin in the samples sampled is being studied. Both groups of toxins are considered toxins emerging by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).
The results obtained will be provided to the different administrations responsible for the monitoring of resources, in order to provide useful information in the control of food of marine origin and food safety.