The Paraguay-Parana Hidrovia: Protecting the Pantanal with lessons from the past
Since its identification in 1996, the marine dinoflagellate Pfiesteria piscicida Steidinger & Burkholder has been the focus of intense scientific inquiry in disciplines ranging from estuarine ecology to epidemiology and from molecular biology to public health. Despite these research efforts, the extent of human exposure and the degree of human illness directly associated with Pfiesteria is still in the process of being defined. Unfortunately, during this same time Pfiesteria has also stimulated media coverage that in some instances jumped ahead of the science to conclude that Pfiesteria presents a widespread threat to human health. Political and economic forces also came into play when the tourism and seafood industries were adversely impacted by rumors of toxin-laden water in estuaries along the east coast of the United States. Amid this climate of evolving science and public concern, Pfiesteria has emerged as a highly controversial public health issue. In October 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored the National Conference on Pfiesteria: From Biology to Public Health to bring together Pfiesteria researchers from many disparate disciplines. The goal of this meeting was to describe the state of the science and identify directions for future research. In preparation for the conference an expert peer-review panel was commissioned to review the existing literature and identify research gaps; the summary of their review is published in this monograph. During the meeting primary Pfiesteria researchers presented previously unpublished results. The majority of those presentations are included as peer-reviewed articles in this monograph. The discussion portion of the conference focused upon researcher-identified research gaps. This article details the discussion segments of the conference and makes reference to the presentations as it describes emerging areas of Pfiesteria research.