Improved methods of detection for the difficult to identify marine toxin, Okadaic acid

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Terry L. Harper (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Jeffery Wright

Abstract: The focus of this study was to investigate an alternative, economic approach to the detection of the diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) toxins in microalgae and shellfish. This group of marine toxins has had a negative impact on human health and economy of the shellfish industry. The method selected for investigation was the evaporative light scattering detector (ELSD). Chemical detection of any member of the DSP toxins is compromised by the fact that none of them contain a strong chromophore or fluorophore. Preparation of a fluorescent derivative involves a time consuming chemical reaction and specialized equipment that yields questionable toxin concentration accuracy. Alternatively other biochemical methods have been reported, which include an enzyme bioassay using protein phosphatase, or an enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). However, these methods are not economical, often requiring specialty reagents, and in the case of the ELISA-based assay, not all the members of the DSP toxin group may be detected with equal sensitivity. The mouse bioassay, used almost universally, can only be used in a broad empirical sense, and there is reluctance among certain countries to continue using this method as a routine monitoring method. More recently, mass spectrometry is often used and may be the best detector available, but the initial capitol cost is high, as is the daily operation of the instrument. Consequently, this detection method is most usually reserved for research laboratories. In selecting an economical detection method for these toxins, the ELS detector offered an attractive, inexpensive approach. The results reported here, where DSP toxins were monitored in phytoplankton and shellfish tissue, support that hypothesis.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
Language: English
Date: 2009
Algal toxins--Analysis, Marine phytoplankton--Research, Marine phytoplankton--Toxicology, Marine toxins--Analysis, Poisonous shellfish--Research, Shellfish as food--Contamination
Marine toxins -- Analysis
Poisonous shellfish -- Research
Marine phytoplankton -- Research
Marine phytoplankton -- Toxicology
Algal toxins -- Analysis
Shellfish as food -- Contamination

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