Trace Level Determination of Domoic Acid in Seawater by Off-line/on-line Solid-phase Extraction Coupled to HPLC-UV


  • Luz Elena Vera-Avila Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Deny Y. Marín-Pérez Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Rosario Covarrubias-Herrera Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México



Domoic acid, seawater, solid-phase extraction, HPLC-UV analysis.


Domoic acid (DA) is a marine neurotoxin mainly produced by microalgae of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia and is considered the main responsible for a human intoxication syndrome known as amnesic shellfish poisoning. In this work, a method for the determination of the biotoxin at low ppb or sub-ppb concentration levels in seawater was developed based on a double solid-phase extraction (SPE) followed by on-line transfer and HPLC-UV analysis of the whole extract. First, preconcentration of DA from 100-mL sample volumes and convenient sample cleanup is achieved by off-line SPE on a reversed phase C18 cartridge. Then, the extract is diluted and loaded in a polymeric reversed phase precolumn, which is further on-line eluted and analyzed. A critical condition for retaining the hydrophilic analyte in the cartridge or the precolumn is the addition of acid and an ion pairing reagent to the loading solution. Recoveries exceeded 90% for all tested seawater samples spiked with DA at 0.5-1 ng/mL. Good precision (<5%) and a limit of detection of 0.04 ng/mL were obtained with this simple method that only requires the use of conventional instrumentation existing in most analytical laboratories in Mexico.



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Author Biographies

Luz Elena Vera-Avila, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Facultad de Química, Departamento de Química Analitíca

Deny Y. Marín-Pérez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Facultad de Química, Departamento de Química Analitíca

Rosario Covarrubias-Herrera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Facultad de Química, Departamento de Química Analitíca


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