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Abstract

Over the past decades, Italian coastlines have been plagued by recurring presence of the benthic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis ovata. Such an alga has caused severe sanitary emergencies and economic losses due to its production of palytoxin-like compounds. Previous studies have confirmed the presence of ovatoxin-a (OVTX-a) as the major toxin of the algal toxin profile together with small amounts of putative palytoxin (PLTX). In our ongoing research on O. ovata toxins we report herein on in-depth investigation of an O. ovata culture carried out by high-resolution (HR) liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS2). Particularly, the presence of putative PLTX and OVTX-a was confirmed and the occurrence in the extract of four new palytoxin-like compounds, OVTX-b, -c, -d, and -e, was highlighted. Elemental formulae have been assigned to the new ovatoxins and information has been gained about their structural features. A quantitative study of the O. ovata culture extract indicated that the whole of the new ovatoxins represents about 46% of the total toxin content and, thus, their presence has to be taken into account when LC/MS-based monitoring programs of either plankton or contaminated seafood are carried out. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.