Detection of Pfiesteria spp. by PCR in surface sediments collected from Chesapeake Bay tributaries (Maryland)

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Parke A. Rublee, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: In 1997 blooms of Pfiesteria piscicida occurred in association with fish kills and human health problems in tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland) and the scientific and media response resulted in large economic losses in seafood sales and tourism. These events prompted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to begin monitoring for Pfiesteria spp. in water column samples. Real-time PCR assays targeted to the 18S rRNA gene were developed by our laboratories and utilized in conjunction with traditional microscopy and fish kill bioassays for detection of these organisms in estuarine water samples. This monitoring strategy aided in determining temporal and spatial distribution of motile forms of Pfiesteria spp. (i.e. zoospores), but did not assess resting stages of the dinoflagellates’ life cycle. To address this area, a 3-year study was designed using real-time PCR assays for analysis of surface sediment samples collected from several Chesapeake Bay tributaries. These samples were tested with the real-time PCR assays previously developed by our laboratories. The data reported herein suggest a strong positive association between presence of Pfiesteria spp. in the sediment and water column, based on long-term water column monitoring data. P. piscicida is detected more commonly in Maryland’s estuarine waters than Pfiesteria shumwayae and sediment ‘cyst beds’ may exist for these organisms.

Additional Information

Harmful Algae
Language: English
Date: 2006
PCR, Pfiesteria, Sediment, Chesapeake Bay

Email this document to