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Toxicon. 1992 Oct;30(10):1165-75.

Identification of anatoxin-A in benthic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and in associated dog poisonings at Loch Insh, Scotland.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Dundee, U.K.


Dog deaths occurred in 1990 and 1991 after the animals drank water containing blooms of benthic cyanobacteria along the shoreline of Loch Insh, Scotland. Signs of poisoning in the affected animals and the high neurotoxicity of bloom extracts in laboratory bioassays indicated acute poisoning due to cyanobacterial neurotoxin(s). The neurotoxic blooms consisted largely of benthic Oscillatoria species which were also observed in the stomach contents of the poisoned dogs. Stomach contents were also neurotoxic in bioassays with the same signs of poisoning as the Oscillatoria blooms. The cyanobacterial alkaloid neurotoxin anatoxin-a was identified in bloom extracts and poisoned dog stomach contents by high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A species of benthic Oscillatoria has been isolated from the neurotoxic bloom material and shown to produce anatoxin-a in laboratory culture. These findings are the first to associate anatoxin-a toxicoses with benthic, rather than planktonic, cyanobacteria. Procedures for anatoxin-a extraction and identification from the blooms and animal material are also detailed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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