Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A sensitive and accurate method for simultaneous analysis of algal toxins in freshwater using UPLC-MS/MS and 15N-microcystins as isotopically labelled internal standards.

Abstract

The development of analytical methods for the detection and accurate quantification of algal toxins is of importance to assess the health risk of exposure to algal toxins in freshwater sources. This study established a sensitive and accurate analytical method for the quantification of 13 algal toxins (microcystins and nodularin) based on solid phase extraction (SPE) coupled with UPLC-MS/MS, in which 15N-microcystins were used as surrogate/internal standards. SPE method was optimized to extract the target algal toxins in freshwater samples. Good SPE efficiencies (84-96%) were achieved for the overwhelming majority of the investigated algal toxins when SPE was performed using HLB (500 mg, 6 mL) under alkaline conditions (pH 11). An accurate quantitative analysis of the algal toxins in real freshwater samples was performed by using 15N-labelled microcystins as isotopically labelled internal standards (ILISs), which compensated for the loss of target toxins during the whole analytical process. In addition, ILISs also helped to correct the effects of environmental matrices and instrument fluctuation in UPLC-MS/MS analysis. The limit of method quantification (MQL) for the algal toxins was <2.0 ng/L that is sensitive enough to quantify extremely low levels of target toxins in freshwater samples.