Variability of Amnesic Shellfish Toxin and Pseudo-nitzschia occurrence in bivalve molluscs and water samples–Analysis of ten years of the official control monitoring programme

Stephanie Rowland-Pilgrim, Sarah Swan, Alison O'Neill, Sarah Johnson, Lewis Coates, Patrycja Stubbs, Karl Dean, Rachel Parks, Keith Harrison, Mickael Teixeira Alves, Alison Walton, Keith Davidson, Andrew Turner, Benjamin Maskrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
113 Downloads (Pure)


As the official control laboratory for marine biotoxins within Great Britain, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, in conjunction with the Scottish Association for Marine Science, has amassed a decade’s worth of data regarding the prevalence of the toxins associated with Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning within British waters. This monitoring involves quantitative HPLC-UV analysis of shellfish domoic acid concentration, the causative toxin for Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, and water monitoring for Pseudo-nitzschia spp., the phytoplankton genus that produces domoic acid. The data obtained since 2008 indicate that whilst the occurrence of domoic acid in shellfish was generally below the maximum permitted limit of 20 mg/kg, there were a number of toxic episodes that breached this limit. The data showed an increase in the frequency of both domoic acid occurrence and toxic events, although there was considerable annual variability in intensity and geographical location of toxic episodes. A particularly notable increase in domoic acid occurrence in England was observed during 2014. Comparison of Scottish toxin data and Pseudo-nitzschia cell densities during this ten-year period revealed a complex relationship between the two measurements. Whilst the majority of events were associated with blooms, absolute cell densities of Pseudo-nitzschia did not correlate with domoic acid concentrations in shellfish tissue. This is believed to be partly due to the presence of a number of different Pseudo-nitzschia species in the water that can exhibit variable toxin production. These data highlight the requirement for tissue monitoring as part of an effective monitoring programme to protect the consumer, as well as the benefit of more detailed taxonomic discrimination of the Pseudo-nitzschia genus to allow greater accuracy in the prediction of shellfish toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101623
Number of pages26
JournalHarmful Algae
Early online date10 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Harmful Algae Bloom
  • ASP toxins


Dive into the research topics of 'Variability of Amnesic Shellfish Toxin and <em>Pseudo-nitzschia</em> occurrence in bivalve molluscs and water samples–Analysis of ten years of the official control monitoring programme'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this