Publications by authors named "D Ransom Hardison"

33 Publications

Acute oral toxicity and tissue residues of saxitoxin in the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).

Harmful Algae 2021 Nov 9;109:102109. Epub 2021 Oct 9.

U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison, WI 53711, United States. Electronic address:

Since 2014, widespread, annual mortality events involving multiple species of seabirds have occurred in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Chukchi Sea. Among these die-offs, emaciation was a common finding with starvation often identified as the cause of death. However, saxitoxin (STX) was detected in many carcasses, indicating exposure of these seabirds to STX in the marine environment. Few data are available that describe the effects of STX in birds, thus presenting challenges for determining its contributions to specific mortality events. To address these knowledge gaps, we conducted an acute oral toxicity trial in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), a common laboratory avian model, using an up-and-down method to estimate the median lethal dose (LD) for STX. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), we tested select tissues from all birds and feces from those individuals that survived initial dosing. Samples with an ELISA result that exceeded approximately 10 µg 100 g STX and randomly selected ELISA negative samples were further tested by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Tissues collected from mallards were also examined grossly at necropsy and then later by microscopy to identify lesions attributable to STX. The estimated LD was 167 µg kg (95% CI = 69-275 µg kg). Saxitoxin was detected in fecal samples of all mallards tested for up to 48 h after dosing and at the end of the sampling period (7 d) in three birds. In those individuals that died or were euthanized <2 h after dosing, STX was readily detected throughout the gastrointestinal tract but only infrequently in heart, kidney, liver, lung, and breast muscle. No gross or microscopic lesions were observed that could be attributable to STX exposure. Given its acute toxicity, limited detectability, and frequent occurrence in the Alaska marine environment, additional research on STX in seabirds is warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2021.102109DOI Listing
November 2021

Investigation of Algal Toxins in a Multispecies Seabird Die-Off in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

J Wildl Dis 2021 04;57(2):399-407

University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, COASST, 1122 NE Boat Street, Box 355020, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.

Between 2014 and 2017, widespread seabird mortality events were documented annually in the Bering and Chukchi seas, concurrent with dramatic reductions of sea ice, warmer than average ocean temperatures, and rapid shifts in marine ecosystems. Among other changes in the marine environment, harmful algal blooms (HABs) that produce the neurotoxins saxitoxin (STX) and domoic acid (DA) have been identified as a growing concern in this region. Although STX and DA have been documented in Alaska (US) for decades, current projections suggest that the incidence of HABs is likely to increase with climate warming and may pose a threat to marine birds and other wildlife. In 2017, a multispecies die-off consisting of primarily Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) and Short-tailed Shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris) occurred in the Bering and Chukchi seas. To evaluate whether algal toxins may have contributed to bird mortality, we tested carcasses collected from multiple locations in western and northern Alaska for STX and DA. We did not detect DA in any samples, but STX was present in 60% of all individuals tested and in 88% of Northern Fulmars. Toxin concentrations in Northern Fulmars were within the range of those reported from other STX-induced bird die-offs, suggesting that STX may have contributed to mortalities. However, direct neurotoxic action by STX could not be confirmed and starvation appeared to be the proximate cause of death among birds examined in this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7589/JWD-D-20-00057DOI Listing
April 2021

Improved Accuracy of Saxitoxin Measurement Using an Optimized Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay.

Toxins (Basel) 2019 10 31;11(11). Epub 2019 Oct 31.

CSS Corporation, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is precipitated by a family of toxins produced by harmful algae, which are consumed by filter-feeding and commercially popular shellfish. The toxins, including saxitoxin, neosaxitoxin, and gonyautoxins, accumulate in shellfish and cause intoxication when consumed by humans and animals. Symptoms can range from minor neurological dysfunction to respiratory distress and death. There are over 40 different chemical congeners of saxitoxin and its analogs, many of which are toxic and many of which have low toxicity or are non-toxic. This makes accurate toxicity assessment difficult and complicates decisions regarding whether or not shellfish are safe to consume. In this study, we describe a new antibody-based bioassay that is able to detect toxic congeners (saxitoxin, neosaxitoxin, and gonyautoxins) with little cross-reactivity with the low or non-toxic congeners (decarbamoylated or di-sulfated forms). The anti-saxitoxin antibody used in this assay detects saxitoxin and neosaxitoxin, the two most toxic congers equally well, but not the relatively highly toxic gonyautoxins. By incorporating an incubation step with L-cysteine, it is possible to convert a majority of the gonyautoxins present to saxitoxin and neosaxitoxin, which are readily detected. The assay is, therefore, capable of detecting the most toxic PSP congeners found in commercially relevant shellfish. The assay was validated against samples whose toxicity was determined using standard HPLC methods and yielded a strong linear agreement between the methods, with R2 values of 0.94-0.96. As ELISAs are rapid, inexpensive, and easy-to-use, this new commercially available PSP ELISA represents an advance in technology allowing better safety management of the seafood supply and the ability to screen large numbers of samples that can occur when monitoring is increased substantially in response to toxic bloom events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins11110632DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891710PMC
October 2019

HABscope: A tool for use by citizen scientists to facilitate early warning of respiratory irritation caused by toxic blooms of Karenia brevis.

PLoS One 2019 20;14(6):e0218489. Epub 2019 Jun 20.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, Beaufort, North Carolina, United States of America.

Blooms of the toxic microalga Karenia brevis occur seasonally in Florida, Texas and other portions of the Gulf of Mexico. Brevetoxins produced during Karenia blooms can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning in humans, massive fish kills, and the death of marine mammals and birds. Brevetoxin-containing aerosols are an additional problem, having a severe impact on beachgoers, triggering coughing, eye and throat irritation in healthy individuals, and more serious respiratory distress in those with asthma or other breathing disorders. The blooms and associated aerosol impacts are patchy in nature, often affecting one beach but having no impact on an adjacent beach. To provide timely information to visitors about which beaches are low-risk, we developed HABscope; a low cost (~$400) microscope system that can be used in the field by citizen scientists with cell phones to enumerate K. brevis cell concentrations in the water along each beach. The HABscope system operates by capturing short videos of collected water samples and uploading them to a central server for rapid enumeration of K. brevis cells using calibrated recognition software. The HABscope has a detection threshold of about 100,000 cells, which is the point when respiratory risk becomes evident. Higher concentrations are reliably estimated up to 10 million cells L-1. When deployed by volunteer citizen scientists, the HABscope consistently distinguished low, medium, and high concentrations of cells in the water. The volunteers were able to collect data on most days during a severe bloom. This indicates that the HABscope can provide an effective capability to significantly increase the sampling coverage during Karenia brevis blooms.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0218489PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6586399PMC
February 2020

Investigation of ciguatoxins in invasive lionfish from the greater caribbean region: Implications for fishery development.

PLoS One 2018 20;13(6):e0198358. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, Beaufort, North Carolina, United States of America.

Lionfish, native to reef ecosystems of the tropical and sub-tropical Indo-Pacific, were introduced to Florida waters in the 1980s, and have spread rapidly throughout the northwestern Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. These invasive, carnivorous fish significantly reduce other fish and benthic invertebrate biomass, fish recruitment, and species richness in reef ecosystems. Fisheries resource managers have proposed the establishment of a commercial fishery to reduce lionfish populations and mitigate adverse effects on reef communities. The potential for a commercial fishery for lionfish is the primary reason to identify locations where lionfish accumulate sufficient amounts of ciguatoxin (CTX) to cause ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP), the leading cause of non-bacterial seafood poisoning associated with fish consumption. To address this issue, an initial geographic assessment of CTX toxicity in lionfish from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico was conducted. Lionfish samples (n = 293) were collected by spearfishing from 13 locations (74 sampling sites) around the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico between 2012 and 2015. The highest frequencies of lionfish containing measurable CTX occurred in areas known to be high-risk regions for CFP in the central to eastern Caribbean (e.g., 53% British Virgin Islands and 5% Florida Keys). Though measurable CTX was found in some locations, the majority of the samples (99.3%) contained CTX concentrations below the United States Food and Drug Administration guidance level of 0.1 ppb Caribbean ciguatoxin-1 (C-CTX-1) equivalents (eq.). Only 0.7% of lionfish tested contained more than 0.1 ppb C-CTX-1 eq. As of 2018, there has been one suspected case of CFP from eating lionfish. Given this finding, current risk reduction techniques used to manage CTX accumulating fish are discussed.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0198358PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010213PMC
December 2018
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