Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Technical Memorandum
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4587
Title: ELISA methods for domoic acid quantification in multiple marine mammal species and sample matrices
Author/Editor: Elizabeth Rose Frame, Kathi A. Lefebvre
Publication Year: 2013
Tech Memo Number: NMFS-NWFSC-122
Pages: 20
Date: 2013

Over the past several years, considerable effort has been invested into developing sensitive methods for detecting algal toxins, specifically using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technologies.  Previously, detection of algal toxins, such as domoic acid (DA), required expensive analytical equipment and highly trained personnel to perform high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) or liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) methodologies.  While excellent methods exist for DA detection using these technologies for seafood safety programs, these methods lacked the sensitivity needed for harmful algal bloom (HAB) researchers investigating the impacts of HAB toxins in wildlife.  The advent of ELISA kits for DA quantification provides a useful tool for diagnostic studies in natural marine mammal populations but requires careful validation of new sample matrices before being employed.  This study provides validated protocols for DA quantification by ELISA in multiple marine mammal species and sample matrices and outlines consistent reporting criteria for use by the larger scientific community.


This techmical memo describes the use of ELISA to detect domoic acid in marine mammal species.  It provides recommendations for minimal dilution of varies sample types from a range o marine mammal species.  The manuscript also includes comparison of the ELISA method with the LCMS method, showing ELISA to be a reliable method for domoic acid detection and quantification.

Theme: Sustaining Marine Ecosystem and Human Health
Foci: Develop methods, technologies, and data integration tools to predict ocean-related public health risks into health early warning and ocean observing systems
Characterize the exposure risks and effects of pathogens, chemical contaminants, and biotoxins on human and marine animal health using sentinel species and biomedical models