Pacific ciguatoxins in food web components of coral reef systems in the Republic of Kiribati

Yim Ling Mak, Tak Cheung Wai, Margaret B. Murphy, Wing Hei Chan, Jia Jun Wu, James C.W. Lam, Leo L. Chan, Paul K.S. Lam

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Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) is a foodborne illness caused by consumption of coral reef fishes contaminated by ciguatoxins (CTXs); of the known CTX congeners, the Pacific ciguatoxins (P-CTXs) are the most toxic. Little is known about the trophodynamics of P-CTXs in coral reef systems. The present study explores the distribution, transfer, and trophic magnification of P-CTX-1, -2, and -3 in coral reef systems with high (ciguatoxic) and low (reference) ciguatoxicity in a CFP-endemic nation by use of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). In ciguatoxic coral reef systems, P-CTXs were detected in 54% of herbivorous fishes [total P-CTXs <0.500-1670 pg/g wet weight (ww)], 72% of omnivorous fishes (<0.500-1810 pg/g ww), and 76% of carnivorous fishes (<0.500-69 500 pg/g ww), as well as a lobster (Panulirus penicillatus; 2.36 pg/g ww) and an octopus (Octopodidae; 2.56 pg/g ww). The dominant P-CTXs in grazers and piscivorous fishes were P-CTX-2 and -1, respectively. No significant correlation between P-CTX levels and lipid content in three target predatory fishes indicated that accumulation of P-CTXs does not depend on fat content. A weak but significant positive relationship was observed between δ15N and P-CTX-1 levels, but further investigation is required to confirm its biomagnification potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14070-14079
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

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