Characterizing ciguatoxin (CTX)- and Non-CTX-producing strains of Gambierdiscus balechii using comparative transcriptomics

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  • Hao Luo
  • Liying Yu
  • Wai Hin Lee
  • Ling Li
  • Yim Ling Mak
  • Senjie Lin
  • Paul K.S. Lam


Original languageEnglish
Article number137184
Journal / PublicationScience of the Total Environment
Online published7 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


Gambierdiscus spp. can produce the polyketide compound, ciguatoxin (CTX), and are hence responsible for ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP). Studying the molecular mechanism that regulates CTX production is crucial for understanding the environmental trigger of CTX as well as for better informing fishery management. Commonly, polyketide synthases are important for polyketide synthesis; however, no gene has been confirmatively assigned to CTX production. Here, suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) were used to compare a CTX-producing strain with a non-CTX-producing strain. Using both methods, a total of 52 polyketide synthase (PKS) genes were identified to be up-regulated in the CTX-producing G. balechii, including transcripts encoding single-domain PKSs as well as transcripts encoding multi-domain PKSs. Using reverse transcription quantitative PCR, the expression of these genes in the CTX-producing strain and in nitrogen-limited cultures of the strain was further documented. These data suggest that PKSs are likely involved in polyketide synthesis and potentially in CTX synthesis in this dinoflagellate species. Our study provides the candidate biomarkers for the detection of CTXs or CFP in waters or any other organisms as well as a valuable genomic resource for the research on Gambierdiscus and other dinoflagellates.

Research Area(s)

  • Ciguatoxin, Gambierdiscus, Polyketide synthase, Transcriptome

Citation Format(s)