Gambierdiscus toxicus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Clade: Diaphoretickes
Clade: SAR
Clade: Alveolata
Phylum: Myzozoa
Superclass: Dinoflagellata
Class: Dinophyceae
Order: Gonyaulacales
Family: Ostreopsidaceae
Genus: Gambierdiscus
G. toxicus
Binomial name
Gambierdiscus toxicus
R.Adachi & Y.Fukuyo, 1979

Gambierdiscus toxicus is a species of photosynthetic unicellular eukaryote belonging to the Alveolata, part of the SAR supergroup. It is a dinoflagellate which can cause the foodborne illness ciguatera,[1] and is known to produce several natural polyethers including ciguatoxin, maitotoxin, gambieric acid, and gambierol.[2][3] The species was discovered attached to the surface of brown macroalgae.[2]


This species was first described by Adachi, R. & Fukuyo, Y in 1979 using samples collected around Gambier Islands.[4] Which was split into five different species (Gambierdiscus caribaeus, Gambierdiscus carolinianus, Gambierdiscus carpenteri, Gambierdiscus ruetzleri and Gambierdiscus toxicus) according to their morphological characteristic of thecal structure, and the sequence of both D1–D3 and D8–D10 regions in large-subunit rDNA.[5]


This species can be found in tropical and subtropical regions in Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.[6] It is often found at the surface of various macroalgae, dead coral, sand and in water column[7] suggesting that the certain chemical compounds in algal exudates may play an important role in the process of attachment .[7] In the presence of light, the attached cell will detach from the substrate and start swimming in water column. When the disturbance is over the swimming cells will again attach to the matrix.[8]

Secondary metabolites

This algae species is capable of producing a variety of bioactive polyketide natural products such as ciguatoxin with characteristic fused-ring cyclic polyether structure. It is believed that the biosynthesis pathway involves epoxide as an intermediate which then undergoes a cyclization reaction to form the fused-ring cyclic polyether structure.[9]


  1. ^ "Cook Islands Biodiversity : Gambierdiscus toxicus - Ciguatera Dinoflagellate". Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  2. ^ a b Faust, MA and Gulledge (2002). "Identifying Harmful Marine Dynoflagellates". 42: 1–144. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Cuypers, E.; Abdel-Mottaleb, Y.; Kopljar, I.; Raes, A. L.; Snyders, D. J.; Tytgat, J (2008). "Gambierol, a toxin produced by the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus, is a potent blocker of voltage-gated potassium". Toxicon. 51 (6): 974–983. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2008.01.004. PMC 2597072. PMID 18313714.
  4. ^ ADACHI, Rokuro; FUKUYO, Yasuwo (1979). "The Thecal Structure of a Marine Toxic Dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus gen. et sp. nov. Collected in a Ciguatera-endemic Area". Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi. 45 (1): 67–71. doi:10.2331/suisan.45.67. ISSN 1349-998X.
  5. ^ Litaker, R. Wayne; Vandersea, Mark W.; Faust, Maria A.; Kibler, Steven R.; Chinain, Mireille; Holmes, Michael J.; Holland, William C.; Tester, Patricia A. (September 2009). "Taxonomy of Gambierdiscus including four new species, Gambierdiscus caribaeus, Gambierdiscus carolinianus, Gambierdiscus carpenteri and Gambierdiscus ruetzleri (Gonyaulacales, Dinophyceae)". Phycologia. 48 (5): 344–390. Bibcode:2009Phyco..48..344L. doi:10.2216/07-15.1. ISSN 0031-8884. S2CID 86334317.
  6. ^ Tester, Patricia A.; Litaker, R. Wayne; Berdalet, Elisa (January 2020). "Climate change and harmful benthic microalgae". Harmful Algae. 91: 101655. doi:10.1016/j.hal.2019.101655. hdl:10261/200648. ISSN 1568-9883. PMID 32057343.
  7. ^ a b Parsons, Michael L.; Settlemier, Chelsie J.; Ballauer, Josh M. (April 2011). "An examination of the epiphytic nature of Gambierdiscus toxicus, a dinoflagellate involved in ciguatera fish poisoning". Harmful Algae. 10 (6): 598–605. doi:10.1016/j.hal.2011.04.011. ISSN 1568-9883. PMC 3182139. PMID 21966283.
  8. ^ Nakahara, Hiroyuki; Sakami, Tomoko; Chinain, Mireille; Ishida, Yuzaburo (June 1996). "The role of macroalgae in epiphytism of the toxic dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus (Dinophyceae)". Phycological Research. 44 (2): 113–117. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1835.1996.tb00385.x. ISSN 1322-0829. S2CID 84070794.
  9. ^ Van Wagoner, Ryan M.; Satake, Masayuki; Wright, Jeffrey L. C. (2014-06-16). "Polyketide biosynthesis in dinoflagellates: what makes it different?". Natural Product Reports. 31 (9): 1101–37. doi:10.1039/c4np00016a. ISSN 0265-0568. PMID 24930430.