[Coral-List] Question on Bill Allison's palytoxin post

Arthur Schultz fish2live at acsalaska.net
Fri Jan 11 14:57:33 EST 2013

While I have no doubt that corals contain a wide of variety of potentially harmful compounds, I still question whether it is possible to poison oneself with palytoxin by boiling live rock. (There may be other reasons not to boil live rock.)

I have some familiarity with saxitoxins, which are quite stable at higher temperatures. I have been present during a saxitoxin extraction which involved boiling the ground tissue sample. In fact, a fair sized group of people were present, and numerous samples were being boiled, since the group was being taught how to use a field testing kit for saxitoxin. We were not boiling our samples under a fume hood or with any other special ventilation.

If palytoxin has a molecular weight over 6x that of saxitoxin, is it reasonable to expect any of it to evaporate out of solution even at a vigorous boil? If so, why weren't we poisoned by the saxitoxin? 

I am equal parts skeptical and worried. On one hand it does not seem entirely reasonable that palytoxin could be dispersed by boiling. On the other hand I wonder if anyone ever considered whether saxitoxin could be dispersed by boiling.

Art Schultz
Kodiak Alaska

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