Red tides are phenomena in which certain pigmented algae ― toxic algae ― undergo population explosions. Health officials ban fishing for oysters, shrimp and other shellfish ― if they detect a red tide. If not, unsuspecting consumers get hit with a virtual tidal wave called neurotoxic shellfish or paralytic shellfish poisoning. That may change thanks to the research of Michael Crimmins, a scientist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His work focuses on brevetoxin A ― the poison in neurotoxic shellfish poisoning. For that research, the American Chemical Society awarded Crimmins its 2010 Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products.

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