Parsons Michael L.

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Michael L.

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  • Article
    Centers for Oceans and Human Health : a unified approach to the challenge of harmful algal blooms
    (BioMed Central, 2008-11-07) Erdner, Deana L. ; Dyble, Julianne ; Parsons, Michael L. ; Stevens, Richard C. ; Hubbard, Katherine A. ; Wrabel, Michele L. ; Moore, Stephanie K. ; Lefebvre, Kathi A. ; Anderson, Donald M. ; Bienfang, Paul ; Bidigare, Robert R. ; Parker, Micaela S. ; Moeller, Peter D. R. ; Brand, Larry E. ; Trainer, Vera L.
    Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are one focus of the national research initiatives on Oceans and Human Health (OHH) at NIEHS, NOAA and NSF. All of the OHH Centers, from the east coast to Hawaii, include one or more research projects devoted to studying HAB problems and their relationship to human health. The research shares common goals for understanding, monitoring and predicting HAB events to protect and improve human health: understanding the basic biology of the organisms; identifying how chemistry, hydrography and genetic diversity influence blooms; developing analytical methods and sensors for cells and toxins; understanding health effects of toxin exposure; and developing conceptual, empirical and numerical models of bloom dynamics. In the past several years, there has been significant progress toward all of the common goals. Several studies have elucidated the effects of environmental conditions and genetic heterogeneity on bloom dynamics. New methods have been developed or implemented for the detection of HAB cells and toxins, including genetic assays for Pseudo-nitzschia and Microcystis, and a biosensor for domoic acid. There have been advances in predictive models of blooms, most notably for the toxic dinoflagellates Alexandrium and Karenia. Other work is focused on the future, studying the ways in which climate change may affect HAB incidence, and assessing the threat from emerging HABs and toxins, such as the cyanobacterial neurotoxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine. Along the way, many challenges have been encountered that are common to the OHH Centers and also echo those of the wider HAB community. Long-term field data and basic biological information are needed to develop accurate models. Sensor development is hindered by the lack of simple and rapid assays for algal cells and especially toxins. It is also critical to adequately understand the human health effects of HAB toxins. Currently, we understand best the effects of acute toxicity, but almost nothing is known about the effects of chronic, subacute toxin exposure. The OHH initiatives have brought scientists together to work collectively on HAB issues, within and across regions. The successes that have been achieved highlight the value of collaboration and cooperation across disciplines, if we are to continue to advance our understanding of HABs and their relationship to human health.
  • Article
    Influence of environmental variables on Gambierdiscus spp. (Dinophyceae) growth and distribution
    (Public Library of Science, 2016-04-13) Xu, Yixiao ; Richlen, Mindy L. ; Liefer, Justin D. ; Robertson, Alison ; Kulis, David M. ; Smith, Tyler ; Parsons, Michael L. ; Anderson, Donald M.
    Benthic dinoflagellates in the genus Gambierdiscus produce the ciguatoxin precursors responsible for the occurrence of ciguatera toxicity. The prevalence of ciguatera toxins in fish has been linked to the presence and distribution of toxin-producing species in coral reef ecosystems, which is largely determined by the presence of suitable benthic habitat and environmental conditions favorable for growth. Here using single factor experiments, we examined the effects of salinity, irradiance, and temperature on growth of 17 strains of Gambierdiscus representing eight species/phylotypes (G. belizeanus, G. caribaeus, G. carolinianus, G. carpenteri, G. pacificus, G. silvae, Gambierdiscus sp. type 4–5), most of which were established from either Marakei Island, Republic of Kiribati, or St. Thomas, United States Virgin Island (USVI). Comparable to prior studies, growth rates fell within the range of 0–0.48 divisions day-1. In the salinity and temperature studies, Gambierdiscus responded in a near Gaussian, non-linear manner typical for such studies, with optimal and suboptimal growth occurring in the range of salinities of 25 and 45 and 21.0 and 32.5°C. In the irradiance experiment, no mortality was observed; however, growth rates at 55μmol photons · m-2 · s-1 were lower than those at 110–400μmol photons · m-2 · s-1. At the extremes of the environmental conditions tested, growth rates were highly variable, evidenced by large coefficients of variability. However, significant differences in intraspecific growth rates were typically found only at optimal or near-optimal growth conditions. Polynomial regression analyses showed that maximum growth occurred at salinity and temperature levels of 30.1–38.5 and 23.8–29.2°C, respectively. Gambierdiscus growth patterns varied among species, and within individual species: G. belizeanus, G. caribaeus, G. carpenteri, and G. pacificus generally exhibited a wider range of tolerance to environmental conditions, which may explain their broad geographic distribution. In contrast, G. silvae and Gambierdiscus sp. types 4–5 all displayed a comparatively narrow range of tolerance to temperature, salinity, and irradiance.
  • Preprint
    Harmful algal blooms and eutrophication : examining linkages from selected coastal regions of the United States
    ( 2008-07-28) Anderson, Donald M. ; Burkholder, JoAnn M. ; Cochlan, William P. ; Glibert, Patricia M. ; Gobler, Christopher J. ; Heil, Cynthia A. ; Kudela, Raphael M. ; Parsons, Michael L. ; Rensel, J. E. Jack ; Townsend, David W. ; Trainer, Vera L. ; Vargo, Gabriel A.
    Coastal waters of the United States (U.S.) are subject to many of the major harmful algal bloom (HAB) poisoning syndromes and impacts. These include paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP), amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP), ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) and various other HAB phenomena such as fish kills, loss of submerged vegetation, shellfish mortalities, and widespread marine mammal mortalities. Here, the occurrences of selected HABs in a selected set of regions are described in terms of their relationship to eutrophication, illustrating a range of responses. Evidence suggestive of changes in the frequency, extent or magnitude of HABs in these areas is explored in the context of the nutrient sources underlying those blooms, both natural and anthropogenic. In some regions of the U.S., the linkages between HABs and eutrophication are clear and well documented, whereas in others, information is limited, thereby highlighting important areas for further research.
  • Preprint
    LSU rDNA based RFLP assays for the routine identification of Gambierdiscus species
    ( 2017-04) Lyu, Yihua ; Richlen, Mindy L. ; Sehein, Taylor R. ; CHINAIN, Mireille ; Adachi, Masao ; Nishimura, Tomohiro ; Xu, Yixiao ; Parsons, Michael L. ; Smith, Tyler B. ; Zheng, Tianling ; Anderson, Donald M.
    Gambierdiscus is a genus of benthic dinoflagellates commonly associated with ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP), which is generally found in tropical or sub-tropical regions around the world. Morphologically similar species within the genus can vary in toxicity; however, species identifications are difficult or sometimes impossible using light microscopy. DNA sequencing of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) is thus often used to identify and describe Gambierdiscus species and ribotypes, but the expense and time can be prohibitive for routine culture screening and/or large-scale monitoring programs. This study describes a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) typing method based on analysis of the large subunit ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) that can successfully identify at least nine of the described Gambierdiscus species and two Fukuyoa species. The software programs DNAMAN 6.0 and Restriction Enzyme Picker were used to identify a set of restriction enzymes (SpeI, HpyCH4IV, and TaqαI) capable of distinguishing most of the known Gambierdiscus species for which DNA sequences were available. This assay was tested using in silico analysis and cultured isolates, and species identifications of isolates assigned by RFLP typing were confirmed by DNA sequencing. To verify the assay and assess intra-specific heterogeneity in RFLP patterns, identifications of 63 Gambierdiscus isolates comprising ten Gambierdiscus species, one ribotype, and two Fukuyoa species were confirmed using RFLP typing, and this method was subsequently employed in the routine identification of isolates collected from the Caribbean Sea. The RFLP assay presented here reduces the time and cost associated with morphological identification via scanning electron microscopy and/or DNA sequencing, and provides a phylogenetically sensitive method for routine Gambierdiscus species assignment.
  • Preprint
    Assessing the use of artificial substrates to monitor Gambierdiscus populations in the Florida Keys
    ( 2017-07) Parsons, Michael L. ; Brandt, Ashley L. ; Ellsworth, Amanda ; Leynse, Alex K. ; Rains, Lacey K. ; Anderson, Donald M.
    Four distinct coastal locations were sampled on a monthly basis near Long Key (Florida Keys, USA) over a 13-month period to study Gambierdiscus population dynamics on different substrates, including four macrophyte species (Dictyota spp., Halimeda spp., Laurencia spp., and Thalassia testudinum) and three artificial substrates (polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tiles, burlap, and fiberglass window screen). Cell densities of Gambierdiscus were generally lower on Dictyota versus Halimeda and Laurencia. Cell densities of Gambierdiscus were significantly correlated among macrophyte hosts in 54% of the comparisons, and between macrophyte hosts and artificial substrates in 72% of the comparisons. Predictive slopes determined from regression analyses between cell densities on artificial substrates and macrophyte hosts indicated that, on an areal basis, fewer cells were present on macrophytes versus artificial substrates (cells cm-2) and that slope variation (error) among the different macrophytes and sites ranged from 5% to 200%, averaging 61% overall. As the data required log-transformation prior to analyses, this level of error translates into two-orders of magnitude in range of estimation of the overall average abundance of Gambierdiscus cells on macrophytes (135 cells g-1 wet weight); 20 to 2690 cells g-1 ww. The lack of consistent correlation among Gambierdiscus cell densities on macrophytes versus artificial substrates, coupled with the high level of error associated with the predictive slope estimations, indicates that extreme caution should be taken when interpreting the data garnered from artificial substrate deployments, and that such deployments should be thoroughly vetted prior to routine use for monitoring purposes.