Skip to main content

Improved understanding of Tasmanian harmful algal blooms and biotoxin events to support seafood

Project Member(s): Murray, S.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Fisheries Research and Development Corporation RDC (Fisheries Research and Development Corporation - Annual Open Call Funding Round)

Start year: 2015

Summary: In Oct 2012, Japanese import authorities detected Paralytic Shellfish Toxins (PSTs) in a consignment of mussels (Mytilus edulis planulatus) harvested from east coast Tasmania. The mussels had bioaccumulated toxins through feeding on a bloom of the dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense affecting >200km of coastline. Product rejection by Japan resulted in a high-profile recall of product spanning several Australian states and international markets, and Japanese authorities imposed a 100% border testing regime on all bivalves imported from Australia. This non compliance event has tarnished the ┬┐clean and green┬┐ image of Australian seafood and resulted in a $23M loss to the Tasmanian economy. The incident resulted in widespread closures for 3-6 months of commercial and recreational bivalve growing areas, rock lobster, scallop and crab fisheries. Inability to distinguish toxic and non-toxic dinoflagellate species and strains in early 2013 led to unnecessary harvest closures ($40K loss) in absence of seafood meat toxicity. This project will: Develop, calibrate and adopt screening techniques for rapid detection and evaluation of toxins Use state-of-the art molecular techniques to elucidate the genetic population structure and biology (inshore or offshore origin) of toxic Alexandrium tamarense- group algae 2 Oceanographic modelling of time periods and zones at risk, and coordinated data capture to enable prediction of biotoxin event development. 3 Perform a desktop seafood risk assessment as a prelude for a future stage 2 proposal focusing on PST foodweb transfer


Murray, S, Verma, A, Barua, A, Ruvindy, R, Savela, H & Kohli, G 2019, 'The molecular ecology and evolution of toxin synthesis in marine microbial eukaryotes', Genetics Society of Australasia, Melbourne.

Ruvindy, R, Bolch, CJ, MacKenzie, L, Smith, KF & Murray, SA 2018, 'qPCR Assays for the Detection and Quantification of Multiple Paralytic Shellfish Toxin-Producing Species of Alexandrium.', Frontiers in microbiology, vol. 9.
View/Download from: Publisher's site

Ajani, PA, Harwood, DT & murray, SA 2017, 'Recent trends in marine phycotoxins from Australian coastal waters', Marine Drugs, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 1-20.
View/Download from: Publisher's site

Dorantes-Aranda, JJ, Campbell, K, Bradbury, A, Elliott, CT, Harwood, DT, Murray, SA, Ugalde, SC, Wilson, K, Burgoyne, M & Hallegraeff, GM 2017, 'Comparative performance of four immunological test kits for the detection of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins in Tasmanian shellfish.', Toxicon, vol. 125, pp. 110-119.
View/Download from: Publisher's site

Murray, SA, Ajani, P, Kretzschmar, AL & Verma, A 2017, 'Response to "More surprises in the global greenhouse: Human health impacts form recent toxic marine aerosol formulations, due to centennial alterations or world-wide coastal food webs".', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 123, no. 1-2, pp. 415-417.
View/Download from: Publisher's site

Hallegraeff, G, Bolch, C, Condie, S, Dorantes-Aranda, J, Murray, SA, Quinlan, R, Ruvindy, R, Turnbull, A, Ugalde, S & Wilson, K 2016, 'Unprecedented Alexandrium blooms in a previously low biotoxin risk area of Tasmania, Australia.', Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Harmful Algae, 17th International Conference on Harmful Algae, ICHA, Brazil, pp. 38-41.

Keywords: marine biotoxins, dinoflagellate, Alexandrium, shellfish

FOR Codes: Aquaculture, Aquaculture Molluscs (excl. Oysters), Aquaculture Rock Lobster, Wild Caught Edible Molluscs, Aquaculture Oysters