Christopher R. Loeer, Harold A. Flores Quintana (Food and Drug Administration, Dauphin Island, USA); Sara M. Handy, Jonathan R. Deeds (Food and Drug Administration, College Park, USA)
Abstract: Globally, ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) avoidance efforts rely primarily on local knowledge of the fish being consumed, its collection location, and association with illnesses. In 2016, several fish that appeared to be hybrids between a local commercially prized species, Ocyurus chrysurus, and a regionally prohibited species Lutjanus apodus (due to CFP concerns), were caught nearshore in United States Virgin Islands waters, leading to confusion regarding the safety of consuming the fish. The hybrid status of the fish was verified as O. chrysurus (male) L. apodus (female) by comparing two sets of gene sequences (mitochondrial CO1 and nuclear S7). Using an in vitro mouse neuroblastoma (N2a) assay, one of the hybrid fish exhibited a composite cytotoxicity of 0.038 ppb Caribbean ciguatoxin-1 (C-CTX-1) equivalents (Eq.); a concentration below the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance level for safety in fish products for CFP (0.1 ppb C-CTX-1 Eq.) but approximately 2 above the maximum described in the commercially prized parent species (0.019 ppb C-CTX-1 Eq./g). C-CTX-1 was confirmed in the hybrid sample by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The second hybrid fish tested negative for CTXs. This research confirms hybridization between two species with contrasting commercial statuses, discusses CTX accumulation implications for hybridization, and provides a methodology for future studies into novel CFP vectors, with the goal of providing critical information for fishermen and consumers regarding CFP risk management.
Key words: ciguatoxin, ciguatera poisoning, hybrid, DNA-based species identification, LC-MS, N2a assay, seafood poisoning