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Comp Biochem Physiol Part D Genomics Proteomics. 2006 Mar;1(1):145-52. doi: 10.1016/j.cbd.2005.10.006. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

TTX accumulation in pufferfish.

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Japan Frozen Foods Inspection Corporation, Shibadaimon 2-4-6, Minato, Tokyo 105-0012, Japan.


Tetrodotoxin (TTX) has been detected in a variety of animals. The finding of TTX in the trumpet shell Charonia sauliae strongly suggested that its origin was its food, a TTX-bearing starfish Astropecten polyacanthus. Since then, the food chain has been consistently implicated as the principal means of TTX intoxication. To identify the primary producer of TTX, intestinal bacteria isolated from several TTX-bearers were investigated for their TTX production. The results demonstrated that some of them could produce TTX. Thus the primary TTX producers in the sea are concluded to be marine bacteria. Subsequently, detritus feeders and zooplankton can be intoxicated with TTX through the food chain, or in conjunction with parasitism or symbiosis. The process followed by small carnivores, omnivores or scavengers, and by organisms higher up the food chain would result in the accumulation of higher concentrations of TTX. Finally, pufferfish at the top of the food chain are intoxicated with TTX. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that net cage and land cultures produce non-toxic pufferfish that can be made toxic by feeding with a TTX-containing diet.

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