The Peruvian sea is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Phytoplankton production provides food for fish, mammals, mollusks and birds. This trophic network is affected by the presence of toxic phytoplankton species. In July 2017, samples of phytoplankton were obtained from Paracas Bay, an important zone for scallop (Argopecten purpuratus) aquaculture in Peru. Morphological analysis revealed the presence of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia, which was isolated and cultivated in laboratory conditions. Subsequently, the monoclonal cultures were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and identified as P. multistriata, based on both the morphological characteristics, and internal transcribed spacers region (ITS2) sequence phylogenetic analysis. Toxin analysis using liquid chromatography (LC) with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) revealed the presence of domoic acid (DA) with an estimated amount of 0.004 to 0.010 pg cell-1. This is the first report of DA from the coastal waters of Peru and its detection in P. multistriata indicates that it is a potential risk. Based on our results, routine monitoring of this genus should be considered in order to ensure public health.
Keywords: Argopecten purpuratus; ITS2; amnesic shellfish poisoning; harmful algae; scallop.