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Old 01-03-2006, 06:23 PM
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Palytoxin

There's been a lot of hype about as well as downplaying of the dangers of palytoxin. Palytoxin is an extremely toxic compund originally isolated from Palythoa polyps and historically used on poison arrows by indigenous tribesmen in the Pacific. It has subsequently been isolated from many organisms, including zoas.

Some reefers have reported poisoning events from fragging various corals, and others discount the reports based on limited data, and the false assumption that the toxin is found only in 1 or 2 species. Take what you want from the data presented below, some like to live dangerously and others prefer to play it safe. It's up to you to evaluate this and make your own choices regarding handling procedures.

From the abstracts quoted below, we can see that some premises that are generally agreed upon by researchers who study palytoxin are:

1) Palytoxin has a wide geographic distribution. It has been isolated from specimens originating in Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, South Pacific, Atlantic as well as the Caribbean.
2) The source is a symbiotic dinoflagellate which lives in corals. The palytoxin-containing corals can then be eaten by fish and the toxin sequestered in tissue.
3) Palytoxin can be isolated from a variety of fishes as well as various corals. It has been isolated from Palythoa sp., Protopalythoa sp., Zoanthus sp., gorgonians, sponges as well as animals and fish that feed on these corals e.g. parrotfish.

The search engine used was the National Institutes of Health literature search engine, NCBI PubMed, using "palytoxin" as the search parameter. I only read about 10 abstracts and cited a few, there's 230 in total, so there's a lot more than this to be seen. I can't link the search results itself, but it's easy to follow what I did if you'd like to check it out yourself.

Each quote is from a different study.

"In coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea (Colombia) palytoxin (PTX) has been detected in zoanthid species of the genera Palythoa and Zoanthus..."
Toxicon. 1995 Nov;33(11):1531-7. Studies on the origin and distribution of palytoxin in a Caribbean coral reef. Gleibs S, Mebs D, Werding B.

"This result indicates that the dinoflagellate O. siamensis is one of the biogenetic origins of palytoxin."
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001 Nov;65(11):2585-8.Structure elucidation of ostreocin D, a palytoxin analog isolated from the dinoflagellate Ostreopsis siamensis.Ukena T, Satake M, Usami M, Oshima Y, Naoki H, Fujita T, Kan Y, Yasumoto T.

"...palytoxin (PTX), which has been detected in zoanthid species of the genus Palythoa, also occurred in various other marine organisms living in close association with zoanthid colonies, e.g. sponges (Porifera), soft corals (Alcyonaria), gorgonians (Gorgonaria), mussels, and crustaceans. Predators, e.g. polychaete worms (Hermodice carunculata), a starfish (Acanthaster planci) and fish (Chaetodon species) feeding on Palythoa colonies, accumulate high toxin concentrations in their organs, where PTX is stored in its active form..."
Toxicon. 1999 Nov;37(11):1521-7. Distribution and sequestration of palytoxin in coral reef animals.Gleibs S, Mebs D.Zentrum der Rechtsmedizin, University of Frankfurt, Germany.

"Palytoxin which had been primarily detected in marine zoanthids (Palythoa sp.), occurs also in a wide range of other animals, e.g. in sponges, corals, shellfish, polychaetes and crustaceans, but also in fish, which feed on crustaceans and zoanthids as well. :
Toxicon. 1998 Nov;36(11):1519-22. Occurrence and sequestration of toxins in food chains. Mebs D.Zentrum der Rechtsmedizin, University of Frankfurt, Germany.

"Between October 30 and November 4, 2000, eleven persons were intoxicated due to ingestion of a serranid fish Epinephelus sp. in Kochi Prefecture, Japan....The causative agent was identified as palytoxin (PTX) on the basis of delayed haemolytic activity which was inhibited by an anti-PTX antibody and ouabain (g-strophanthin). To our knowledge, this is the first report on palytoxin poisoning with serranid fish."
J Nat Toxins. 2002 Dec;11(4):277-82.Occurrence of a food poisoning incident by palytoxin from a serranid Epinephelus sp. in Japan. Taniyama S, Mahmud Y, Terada M, Takatani T, Arakawa O, Noguchi T.
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Last edited by MrAnderson; 01-03-2006 at 06:27 PM..
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Old 01-03-2006, 06:30 PM
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I read a sad story on RC on this topic. Some guy's dog ate some zoos when he was working on his tank, and by the end of the day his dog died in the vet's office. Thats pretty sad =*(
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:30 PM
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There are a lot of deadly things we mess with in our reeftanks. It's a miracle someone has not died yet.

Basically, if you are careful and use gloves or at least make sure you have no cuts on your hands when fragging zoos and corals 99.999% of people will be OK.

-Alfred
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:32 PM
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It's been awhile! Glad to see your still with us.

Do you know the fatal dose amount?
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Old 01-03-2006, 11:18 PM
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Hi sollby, I'm still here. Mostly sporadic lurking, I'm only keeping a tiny pico, I just can't keep up with a proper reef tank these days. Any "new" zeo data?

I believe the LD50 (i.e. Lethal Dose for 50% of test subjects, for the uninitiated) is in the 10-100ng/kg body weight. Pretty potent, but if it's diluted in the average 30-250 gal tank, it's probably not enough to kill with surface skin exposure to tank water. Obviously that experiment hasn't been done so caveat reefer.
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Old 01-04-2006, 12:26 AM
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Very interesting Mr. Anderson......
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RIP Frank (FRY). You will be missed.
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