December 22, 2011
NOAA has awarded the first year of an anticipated five-year, $4 million grant to scientists researching the causes of Ciguatera fish poisoning, the most common form of algal toxin-induced seafood poisoning in the world, focusing on the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.
Ciguatera affects tens of thousands of people annually, but the occurrence has been impossible to predict and manage. The research project could lead to better predictions of ciguatera outbreaks.
“Ciguatera is of great concern to people who prefer or depend on reef fish in their diets,” said Michael Parsons, professor of marine science and director of the Coastal Watershed Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University, who will lead the international research team. “Anything we can do to lessen illnesses by reducing the exposure to the toxins that cause ciguatera would be a great benefit to the consumer.”
Joining Parsons will be Don Anderson and Mindy Richlen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Deana Erdner, University of Texas Marine Science Institute; Ron Kiene, University of South Alabama; Yuri Okolodkov, University of Veracruz, Mexico; Alison Robertson, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory; and Tyler Smith, University of the Virgin Islands.
The study was funded through a national competition of the Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) Program run by NOAA’s National Ocean Service/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. The first year award will be $554,159; the entire five year grant could total $4,015,370.
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