Ciguatera poisoning (CP) is a severe seafood-borne disease, caused by the consumption of reef fish contaminated with Caribbean ciguatoxins (C-CTXs) in the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. However, C-CTXs have not been identified from their presumed algal source, so the relationship to the CTXs in fish causing illness remains unknown. This has hindered the development of detection methods, diagnostics, monitoring programs, and limited fundamental knowledge on the environmental factors that regulate C-CTX production. In this study, in vitro and chemical techniques were applied to unambiguously identify a novel C-CTX analogue, C-CTX5, from Gambierdiscus silvae and Gambierdiscus caribaeus strains from the Caribbean. Metabolism in vitro by fish liver microsomes converted algal C-CTX5 into C-CTX1/2, the dominant CTX in ciguatoxic fish from the Caribbean. Furthermore, C-CTX5 from G. silvae was confirmed to have voltage-gated sodium-channel-specific activity. This finding is crucial for risk assessment, understanding the fate of C-CTXs in food webs, and is a prerequisite for development of effective analytical methods and monitoring programs. The identification of an algal precursor produced by two Gambierdiscus species is a major breakthrough for ciguatera research that will foster major advances in this important seafood safety issue.

Algal ciguatoxin identified as source of ciguatera poisoning in the Caribbean
Mudge EM, Miles CO, Ivanova L, Uhlig S, James KS, Erdner DL, Fæste CK, McCarron P, Robertson A
Chemosphere 2023 Apr 10;330:138659.
doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2023.138659.