RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Intra-organismal distribution of tetrodotoxin in two species of blue-ringed octopuses (Hapalochlaena fasciata and H. lunulata).

In-depth studies on the intra-organismal distribution of toxin may yield valuable clues about potential ecological functions. The distribution of tetrodotoxin (TTX) in previously unexamined tissues of two species of blue-ringed octopuses, wild-caught Hapalochlaena fasciata and Hapalochlaena lunulata from the aquarium industry, was surveyed. Tissues from each individual were examined separately. Tetrodotoxin was detected in posterior salivary gland (PSG), arm, mantle, anterior salivary glands, digestive gland, testes contents, brachial heart, nephridia, gill, and oviducal gland of H. fasciata. By contrast TTX was found only in the PSG, mantle tissue, and ink of H. lunulata. The highest concentrations of TTX resided in the PSG of both species; however, the arms and mantle contained the greatest absolute amounts of TTX. Minimum total amounts of TTX per octopus ranged from 60 to 405 microg in H. fasciata and from 0 to 174 microg in H. lunulata and correlated well with the amounts in the PSG. Transport of TTX in the blood is loosely suggested by the presence of the toxin in blood-rich organs such as the gill and brachial hearts. The distributional data also suggest both offensive and defensive functions of TTX.

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