Research title: The detection of cyanotoxins in fish and shellfish.
Start date: October 2013
Cyanobacteria, commonly better known as blue-green algae, are found in different aquatic environments around the world. Due to global warming and an increased availability of nutrients the number of their blooms and their duration has increased over the last years. Some species (e.g. Microcystis, Planktothrix/Oscillatoria, Anabaena, and Nostoc) are able to produce toxic metabolites which are released once the cell dies. The most widely studied toxins are microcystins which are hepatotoxins. These target and damage liver tissue by disrupting the cellular structure. Furthermore nodularins are produced by Nodularia which are also liver toxins.
Mussels being filter feeders can be exposed to these toxic metabolites and accumulate them. Due to this accumulation a possible transfer of toxins to birds, mussel eating fish and humans can occur.
This projects aims to develop an analytical method for the detection of a number of different microcystins and nodularin in mussel tissue in order to estimate toxic levels and possible health risks.
Dr. Andrew Turner