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

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Author(s): Kiyo Mondo | Neil Hammerschlag | Margaret Basile | John Pablo | Sandra A. Banack | Deborah C. Mash

Journal: Marine Drugs
ISSN 1660-3397

Volume: 10;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 509;
Date: 2012;
Original page

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

ABSTRACT
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.
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