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Marine Toxins: Origin, Structure, and Molecular Pharmacology.

Publication of "Marine Toxins," subtitled "Origin, Structure, and Molecular Pharmacology" and edited by Sherwood Hall and Gary Strichartz, has been announced by the American Chemical Society, 1155 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036 as ACS Symposium Series 418. This particular volume brings together results from selected fields of study into one handy reference, with emphasis on the structures and metabolic origin of toxins and the molecular basis for their toxicity. It was developed from the conference at the Marine Biological Laboratory in 1987 entitled "Natural Toxins from Aquatic and Marine Environments."

The toxins are discussed without chemical or taxonomic bias and range from small molecules to proteins; source organisms for them range from bacteria to vertebrates. Traditional structural studies are included, as are discussions of contemporary molecular pharmacology and conformational chemistry. The book is divided into four parts, with Section one, "general considerations," presenting discussions of marine toxins and membrane channels; biosynthesis of red tide toxins; sources, chemistry, and pharmacology of the saxitoxins; the HPLC method applied to PSP research; tetrodotoxins and saxitoxins in marine bacteria (i.e., Vibrio, Alteromonas, Plesiomonas, and Pseudomonas); and natural toxins from blue-green algae.

Section two, on polyether toxins in seafood poisoning, includes articles on the molecular basis of ciguatoxin action; detection, metabolism, and pathophysiology of brevetoxins; X-ray crystallographic studies of marine toxins; and effects of maitotoxin on smooth and cardiac muscle. Section three presents perspectives on palytoxin-one of the most potent coronary vasoconstrictors known-including its pharmacological action, antibody production and development of a radioimmunoassay for it, and other pharmacological and toxicological studies. The final section, on peptide toxins, contains a review of the work on conotoxins, the biologically active peptides in cone snail venom; sea anemone polypeptide toxins that affect sodium channels; and chapters on sea snake venom (neurotoxins), the cytolytic peptides found in sea anemones, some natural jellyfish toxins, plus an article on pardaxin, the neurotoxic polypeptide from the Red Sea Moses sole, Pardachirus marmoratus, which targets gills and pharynx of aquatic animals and is eyed as a shark repellant.

Some of these toxins may have various pharmaceutical applications; some are of growing public health concern. This volume, presenting such a wide variety of research and reviews, is a useful contribution to many of those concerned with such problems or applications, for it presents or describes the sources of the natural toxins, emphasizing the metabolic pathways responsible for their synthesis. It also addresses the structures of the toxins and the features which determine both the distribution of toxic materials among the organs of intoxicated species and the stability, disposition, and biotransformation of those toxins.

Noted one contributor, "Collaboration among research groups of different disciplines and among those in different regions seems indispensable for further progress in seafood toxin research." This volume should help advance such progress. Hardbound, the 377-page volume includes author, affiliation, and subject indexes, and is available from the ACS Distribution Offices at the headquarters address at $74.95.

Progress in developing safer, more specific pesticides is being made along the lines of utilizing various natural products, including certain marine species or products. Work toward this end is covered in number 380 in the ACS Symposium Series, "Biologically Active Natural Products," edited by Horace G. Cutler of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. This 31-chapter volume provides reviews and analyses of many biologically active substances that, formulated into a variety of products, could hold promise for "relief from a broad spectrum of agricultural problems." Or, for that matter, some fisheries problems. One chapter, "Protecting crops and wildlife with chitin and chitosan" by M. L. Bade and R.L. Wick, reviews potential utilization of these shellfish wastes to inhibit crop-damaging fungi and nematodes in lieu of using highly toxic pesticides. Another aspect reviewed is the use of chitosan-based biodegradable plastics to prevent some aspects of marine pollution.

Following a personal overview of natural products and their potential uses in agriculture by editor Cutler, chapters discuss the biological and pesticidal activities of avermectins-biologically active products from fungi; production of herbicidal and insecticidal metabolites by soil microorganisms; structural diversity and physiological activity of toxins of phytopathogenic microorganisms; approaches to studying structure/function relationships in naturally occurring cyclic peptides; and tentotoxin as a potential herbicide. Another chapter by J.H. Cardellina, II, relates his investigation of marine algae and invertebrates which might produce products active against terrestrial plants and insects, and reports isolation of some novel bioactive compounds. In all, the book provides a wealth of information and insights into this rapidly progressing field for chemists and biotechnologists. With author, affiliation, and subject indexes, the hardbound 483-page volume costs $89.95.

"Biogenic Sulfur in the Environment," edited by Eric S. Saltzman and William J. Cooper, number 393 in the ACS Symposium Series, provides a thorough look at the origins and fates of natural sulfur compounds. It also deals specifically with the cycling of biologically produced sulfur throughout both terrestrial and marine environments.

Included is previously unavailable data on the production of dimethyl sulfide by phytoplankton species, along with information on the emission of sulfur from the roots of trees, and an analysis of the role of marine and freshwater bodies in the sulfur cycle. In addition, organosulfur (thiol) formation and metabolism of acrylate and 3-mercaptopropionate in marine sediments are discussed, along with the roles of organisms ranging from common algae to anoxyphotobacteria in the ongoing sulfur cycle.

Following the overview of biogenic sulfur emissions for terrestrial and marine environments, the volume presents several chapters on sulfur emissions and transformation, with reports on the U.S. National Biogenic Sulfur Emissions Inventory, sulfur emissions from Florida wetlands, emissions from higher plants and trees, origin of hydrogen sulfide in freshwater sediments, and sulfur cycling in an acidified lake. Additional chapters review dimethyl sulfide in the oceans, biogeochemical cycling of dimethyl sulfide in marine environments, dimethyl sulfide reproduction in marine phytoplankton, and dimethyl sulfide and (dimethylsulfonio) propionate in European coastal and shelf waters.

Other articles discuss thermodynamics and kinetics of hydrogen sulfide in natural waters, hydrogen sulfides in oxic seawater, microbial metabolism of dimethyl sulfide, decomposition products of DMSP in anoxic marine sediments, and more. Following that are contributions on the distribution and gas-phase and aqueous- phase transformations of sulfur compounds in the atmosphere, including a review of dimethyl sulfide and hydrogen sulfide in marine air. Altogether, the 43 scientific papers in chapter form provide a broad overview of the state-of-the-art in research and knowledge about the sulfur cycle, which is useful in comparing the impacts of human induced sulfur emissions. Included are author, affiliation, and subject indexes, and the 572-page hardbound volume costs $99.95 (U.S. and Canada) and $119.95 elsewhere.
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Publication:Marine Fisheries Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1990
Previous Article:The fisheries and fish trade of India.
Next Article:Biologically Active Natural Products.

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