15 Ott 2021

Presentation at the International Conference on Harmful Algae (ICHA) 2021.

At the International Conference on Harmful Algae – ICHA 2021 organized on October 15-18th in La Paz (Mexico), ETT participated with the presentation entitled “Investigating the toxic potential of two dinoflagellates from the Mediterranean Sea”. The study collected the results obtained in a research project developed with the collaboration of University of Genoa.


Dinoflagellates blooms have become a serious issue in the Mediterranean Sea. Blooms of these algae can be harmful for the environment, human health and aquatic life due to the production of some of the mightiest toxins in marine environment. Two species are the noted specials for governments bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The first is Ostreopsis ovata, producer of palytoxins and analogues, responsible of serious sanitary problems on people exposed to large blooms. The second is Prorocentrum lima, known to be able to produce, among the others, okadaic acid a potent toxin linked to sever shellfish poisonings.

This study proposes a comprehensive in-vitro toxicological approach to investigate the effect of toxins produced by these two species evaluating the risks for humans and environment. To preserve all the compounds produced by algae, experimental treatments were prepared using an extraction protocol based on cell lysis.

At firs was evaluated the ecotoxicological effect by measuring the mortality rate of Artemia franciscana nauplii exposed to different treatments concentration. Then the human risk was evaluated with at first a standard in-vitro skin and eye irritational tests. Then with neurotoxicity tests on cultured mouse cortical neuronal networks by means of MTT assay and electrophysiological evaluation by using a Multi Electrode Array (MEAs) based approach.

Results show a high mortality rate in A. franciscana for both species, confirming the strong toxic potential of the two species and validating the treatments preparation protocol. Surprisingly, skin and eye irritation tests did not show any significant effect, suggesting that other cellular pathways may be involved. Differently, MEAs-based analysis, showed a significant inhibition of spontaneous electrical activity at low concentrations after exposure to O. cf ovata and P. lima, followed by cell death only at high concentration exposure.

Abstract book:

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