Home > Explore Data & Reports > Prominent Human Health Impacts from Several Marine Microbes: History, Ecology, and Public Health Implications


Bienfang, P.K., S.V. DeFelice, E.A. Laws, L.E. Brand, R.R. Bidigare, S. Christensen, H. Trapido-Rosenthal, T.K. Hemscheidt, D.J. McGillicuddy, D.M. Anderson, H.M. Solo-Gabriele, A.B. Boehm, and L.C. Backer. 2010. Prominent Human Health Impacts from Several Marine Microbes: History, Ecology, and Public Health Implications. International Journal of Microbiology, 2011:152815. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/152815

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This paper overviews several examples of important public health impacts by marine microbes and directs readers to the extensive literature germane to these maladies. These examples include three types of dinoflagellates (Gambierdiscus spp., Karenia brevis, and Alexandrium fundyense), BMAA-producing cyanobacteria, and infectious microbes. The dinoflagellates are responsible for ciguatera fish poisoning, neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, and paralytic shellfish poisoning, respectively, that have plagued coastal populations over time. Research interest on the potential for marine cyanobacteria to contribute BMAA into human food supplies has been derived by BMAA's discovery in cycad seeds and subsequent implication as the putative cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism dementia complex among the Chamorro people of Guam. Recent UPLC/MS analyses indicate that recent reports that BMAA is prolifically distributed among marine cyanobacteria at high concentrations may be due to analyte misidentification in the analytical protocols being applied for BMAA. Common infectious microbes (including enterovirus, norovirus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia) cause gastrointestinal and skin-related illness. These microbes can be introduced from external human and animal sources, or they can be indigenous to the marine environment.

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