Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)




College of Science

First Advisor

Megan Cevasco


Pseudo-nitzschia is a globally distributed diatom genus which contains 26 neurotoxin (domoic-acid) producing species. In shallow coastal waters these diatoms are associated with both the development of harmful algal blooms and the bio-accumulation of toxins in shellfish that can impact human health. Pilot data recovered in 2018 indicated the presence of multiple species of Pseudo-nitzschia, including domoic-acid producing taxa. We hypothesize that we will recover a similar species diversity using multiple sampling dates during the summer of 2021. Environmental DNA (eDNA) samples taken from the public shellfish harvesting area waters at Huntington Beach State Park (SC) over a two month period during the summer of 2021 were PCR- screened for Pseudo-nitzschia spp. using genus specific primers. The DNA of the recovered amplicons was separated by cloning and sequenced to molecularly characterized the species of Pseudo-nitzschia present and their potential to produce domoic acid. These data indicate the presence of multiple species of varied neurotoxicity. Sequences will be used to help inform the development of a qPCR assay to help quantify Pseudo-nitzschia spp. in shellfish harvesting areas in coastal South Carolina.