Fibropapillomatosis (FP) in green turtles Chelonia mydas is a debilitating, neoplastic disease that has reached worldwide epizootic levels. The etiology of FP is unknown but has been linked to oncogenic viruses. Toxic benthic dinoflagellates (Prorocentrum spp.) are not typically considered tumorigenic agents, yet they have a worldwide distribution and produce a tumor promoter, okadaic acid (OA). Prorocentrum spp. are epiphytic on macroalgae and seagrasses that are normal components of green turtle diets. Here we show that green turtles in the Hawaiian Islands consume Prorocentrum and that high-risk FP areas are associated with areas where P. lima and P. concavum are both highly prevalent and abundant. The presence of presumptive OA in the tissues of Hawaiian green turtles further suggests exposure and a potential role for this tumor promoter in the etiology of FP.
Additional Publication Details
The potential role of natural tumor promoters in marine turtle fibropapillomatosis