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Degradation of okadaic acid in seawater by UV/TiO2 photocatalysis: proof of concept.

Camacho-Muñoz, Dolores; Lawton, Linda Ann; Edwards, Christine


Dolores Camacho-Muñoz


The consumption of contaminated shellfish with marine toxins causes adverse socioeconomical, environmental and health impacts. The marine toxin okadaic acid (OA) provokes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) syndrome characterized by severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Therefore, there is increasing interest in removing these toxins from the marine environment to protect shellfish harvesting sites. Photocatalysis is proposed as an efficient method to detoxify the marine environment. In this study, Prorocentrum lima was used to produce high purity DSP toxins, in particular OA, for degradation studies. The profiling, characterization and quantification of DSP toxins in the culture of P. lima were achieved by ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole-time of flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-QTOF-MSE) for accurate-mass full spectrum acquisition data. The effectiveness of UV/TiO2 system to degrade OA in seawater was assessed in lab-scale experiments and identification of transformation products was proposed based on the data obtained during analysis by UPLC-QTOF-MSE. The detoxification potential of the UV/TiO2 system was investigated using the phosphatase inhibition assay. Sufficient amount of high-purity OA (25 mg, >90% purity) was produced in-house for use in photocatalysis experiments by simple reversed-phase flash chromatography. Complete degradation of OA was observed in seawater after 30 min and 7.5 min in deionized water. The rate constants fitted with the pseudo-first order kinetic model (R2>0.96). High-resolution mass spectrometry analysis of the photocatalyzed OA allowed tentative identification of four transformation products. Detoxification was achieved in parallel with the degradation of OA in deionized water and artificial ocean water (≤ 20 min) but not for seawater. Overall, results suggest that UV/TiO2 photocatalysis can be an effective approach for degrading OA and their TPs in the marine environment. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the use of photocatalysis to degrade marine toxins and its promising potential to protect shellfish harvesting sites.


CAMACHO-MUÑOZ, D., LAWTON, L.A. and EDWARDS, C. 2020. Degradation of okadaic acid in seawater by UV/TiO2 photocatalysis: proof of concept. Science of the total environment [online], 733, article ID 139346. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 9, 2020
Online Publication Date May 12, 2020
Publication Date Sep 1, 2020
Deposit Date May 11, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 13, 2021
Journal Science of the total environment
Print ISSN 0048-9697
Electronic ISSN 1879-1026
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 733
Article Number 139346
Keywords Okadaic acid; Seawater; Photocatalysis; Mass spectrometry
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