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Toxic and harmful marine phytoplankton and microalgae (HABs) in Mexican Coasts.

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Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F., Mexico.


Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are becoming an increasing problem to human health and environment (including effects on natural and cultured resources, tourism and ecosystems) all over the world. In Mexico a number of human fatalities and important economic losses have occurred in the last 30 years because of these events. There are about 70 species of planktonic and non-planktonic microalgae considered harmful in Mexican coasts. The most important toxin-producing species are the dinoflagellates Gymnodinium catenatum and Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum, in the Mexican Pacific, and Karenia brevis in the Gulf of Mexico, and consequently the poisonings documented in Mexico are Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) and Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP). Although there is evidence that Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP), Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) and Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP) also occur in Mexico, these problems are reported less frequently. The type of phytoplankton and epiphytic microalgae, their toxins and harmful effects as well as current methodology used to study these phenomena are presented in this paper. As an experienced group of workers, we include descriptions of monitoring and mitigation programs, our proposals for collaborative projects and perspectives on future research.

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