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The Science of Pfiesteria: Elusive, Subtle, and Toxic

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Science  11 Oct 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5592, pp. 346-349
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5592.346

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Ever since it was blamed for massive fish kills in estuaries in the eastern United States a decade ago, a tiny one-celled organism known as Pfiesteria piscicida has fascinated and horrified the public. This dinoflagellate has been accused of slaying more than a billion fish and, in a superaggressive mode, releasing a potent neurotoxin that has sickened fishers and lab workers. It is also at the center of a raging scientific debate.