Project Browser
Project Summary and Statement of Work: Jun, 2010
Progress Report: Jan, 2011
Progress Report: Jul, 2011
Final Report: Sep, 2012
Metadata & Data
NPRB.2010.21.Kachemak_Bay_A. fundyense_survey_summer_2012
Gulf of Alaska
Ecosystem components
Other Prominent Issues (Contaminants, Harmful Algal Blooms, Invasive Species, Aquaculture)
Gravina Island ( Ketchikan)
Kachemak Bay (Homer)
Kodiak Island (Kodiak)
near Icy Straits (Juneau)
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning
Alaska Harmful Algal Bloom network
public health

1021 Development of Rapid, Accurate, Quantitative PCR Assays for Identifying Toxic Alexandrium Species Responsible For Causing Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Year funded: 2010
Start date: Jul 01, 2010
End date: Jun 30, 2012
Budget: $99,893.00
Metadata: Available At NPRB
Data: Available At NPRB
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) is a chronic problem in Alaska. This illness results from the consumption of molluscan shellfish or crabs which have accumulated neurotoxins produced by harmful algal bloom species in the genus Alexandrium. Symptoms include numbness or tingling of the face, arms, and legs, headache, dizziness, nausea, and lack of muscular coordination. In severe cases muscle paralysis and respiratory failure occurs leading to death in 2 to 25 hours. Because toxin detection is expensive, and widespread or frequent testing is impractical, many coastal regions in Alaska are permanently closed to shellfish harvesting. Consequently, there is a need for an effective system to monitor the risk of PSP. In the northeast US and in Europe, Alexandrium cell counts, in conjunction with molecular assays, have been employed to identify toxic Alexandrium in samples from monitoring programs. Developing a comparable protocol in Alaska is not possible because so little information is known about which species of Alexandrium occur there. The goal of this project is to identify which Alexandrium species are present in Alaska, to confirm which species produce toxins, and to develop rapid species-specific molecular assays that can be used to determine the distribution and abundance of the toxic species. Resource managers and members of the Alaskan Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring network will be instructed on how to use the assays in conjunction with Alexandrium cell counts to assess the risk of PSP.
Principal Investigator(s)
Richard Litaker
101 Pivers Island Rd.
Beaufort NC 28516 USA
Phone: 252-729-8791
Fax: 252-728-8784