Building the future by doing more together

Bioelectronic Tongue System for the Paralytic Toxins detection in shellfish
Coordinator - Alisa Rudnitskaya
Programme - Programa Operacional Regional do Centro (02/SAICT/2017)
Execution dates - 2019-01-01 - 2021-12-31 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020 co-funded by the FEDER - Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional
Funding for CESAM - 159947 €
Total Funding - 231710 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro
Participating Institutions
Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA)
Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental (CIIMAR)

Most of coastal countries are affected by proliferation of microalgae - harmful algal blooms (HABs). Some of the species of these microalgae produce toxins affecting marine organisms and can be accumulated by bivalves. Consumption of contaminated seafood may provoke shellfish poisoning in humans that sometimes may lead to death. HABs represent a public health threat also leading to the economic losses in the aquaculture, fisheries and tourism. Due to unpredictability of occurrence of HABs, routine surveillance program were established in EU including Portugal, where it is performed by the IPMA. Among other obligatory monitored shellfish toxins, paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) are of particular concern due to the life-threatening neurological symptoms they can cause in humans. Reference method for PSTs' detection in EU is Liquid Chromatography (LC) with Fluorimetric Detection (FLD). As LC-FLD is a laboratorial technique requiring expensive apparatus and skilled personnel, development of inexpensive and rapid methodologies for the detection and quantification of toxins, namely PSTs, which could be used both as a screening and alarm tool by authorities and professionals, have been called for. Significant advances have been achieved in the field of sensors and immunoassays shaping them as attractive candidates for developing those alternative methodologies. However, their development mostly focused on the detection of the most abundant worldwide PSTs, such as saxitoxin, while PST profile detected in bivalves from the Portuguese coast differs and includes mostly N-sulfocarbamoyl and decarbamoyl toxins. This project aims to develop a biosensor system or electronic tongue for the rapid detection of PSTs commonly encountered in the Portuguese coastal waters. Novel approach to the detection of PSTs adopted in this work consists in combining biosensors with partial specificity into a sensor array. Electronic tongues based on chemical sensors have been successfully applied to a range of analytical tasks including quantification of organic compounds by ptoject participants among other groups. Only few applications of the electronic tongues based on biosensors were reported. The screening of PSTs in bivalves from the Portuguese coastal areas through bioelectronic tongue will provide a picture of the toxins' distribution on different spatial scales, and eventually information on short-scale time variation. The developed device will provide a tool for bivalve producers to survey toxins in their products allowing a more efficient management of bivalves culture and harvesting, particularly in remote and offshore regions. The project brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts in the fields of sensors and electronic tongue systems, marine toxins, analytical chemistry and biochemistry, thus ensuring the required know-how to successfully achieve the objectives described in the proposal.

CESAM Funding: