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, 10 (2), 509-20

Cyanobacterial Neurotoxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) in Shark Fins


Cyanobacterial Neurotoxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) in Shark Fins

Kiyo Mondo et al. Mar Drugs.


Sharks are among the most threatened groups of marine species. Populations are declining globally to support the growing demand for shark fin soup. Sharks are known to bioaccumulate toxins that may pose health risks to consumers of shark products. The feeding habits of sharks are varied, including fish, mammals, crustaceans and plankton. The cyanobacterial neurotoxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) has been detected in species of free-living marine cyanobacteria and may bioaccumulate in the marine food web. In this study, we sampled fin clips from seven different species of sharks in South Florida to survey the occurrence of BMAA using HPLC-FD and Triple Quadrupole LC/MS/MS methods. BMAA was detected in the fins of all species examined with concentrations ranging from 144 to 1836 ng/mg wet weight. Since BMAA has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases, these results may have important relevance to human health. We suggest that consumption of shark fins may increase the risk for human exposure to the cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA.

Keywords: conservation; cyanobacteria; elasmobranch; neurodegenerative disease; neurotoxin; β-N-methylamino-L-alanine.


Figure 1
Figure 1
HPLC identification of BMAA in shark fins. (A) HPLC-FD separation of non-hydrolyzed AQC derivatized amino and diamino acids: tyrosine (Try), valine (Val), methionine (Met), N-2(amino)ethylglycine (AEG), β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), and 2,4-diaminosuccinic acid (2,4-DAB), lysine (Lys), isoleucine (Ile), leucine (Leu), phenylalanine (Phe); (B) Representative chromatogram of great hammerhead shark fin (black) overlaid with BMAA standard (red). Separation of the derivatized amino and diamino acids was optimized on a C18 column.
Figure 2
Figure 2
LC/MS/MS identification and verification of BMAA in a single great hammerhead shark fin from South Florida Bay waters. (A) Triple quadrupole LC/MS/MS verification of BMAA standard. The chromatographic spectra of the three major ions produced from collision-induced dissociations of m/z 459 are: (top panel) protonated AQC derivative fragment (m/z 171), the quantitation ion; (center panel) protonated-BMAA AQC fragment (m/z 289), the first qualifier ion and (lower panel) protonated-BMAA fragment (m/z 119), the second qualifier ion; (B) Representative triple quadrupole LC/MS/MS verification of BMAA in a great hammerhead shark. Spectra are the same as in Column A.

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