Establishing a protocol to measure tetrodotoxin (TTX) levels in small bodied newts (genus Lissotriton) in western Europe

Wagstaff, RM 2021, Establishing a protocol to measure tetrodotoxin (TTX) levels in small bodied newts (genus Lissotriton) in western Europe , MSc by research thesis, University of Salford.

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Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a defence toxin most commonly found in marine organisms, and amphibians are the only land vertebrates (tetrapods) which are known to produce TTX. However, the origin of TTX in amphibians remains largely unknown, and our knowledge about the existence and distribution of TTX across taxa and populations is very incomplete. The present study summarises our knowledge of TTX in amphibians, and describes a series of experiments to determine whether TTX can be detected in newts (genus Lissotriton and Icthyosaura) across north-eastern Europe. The study was based on eggs and fresh roadkills collected in England, Scotland, Wales and France. The roadkill samples were collected at a site inhabited by both Lissotriton vulgaris and L. helveticus, and species identification was attempted using mtDNA sequencing. An initial set of TTX detection experiments considered all samples, and trialled alternative extraction protocols before employing HPLC/UV/Vis spectrometry. While strong candidate peaks for TTX were identified in some samples, the employed approach was not sufficiently sensitive to unambiguously demonstrate its presence. Three of the adult newts collected from England were further tested for TTX using liquid chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry. No tetrodotoxin was detected in any of the newts that were tested. The findings are discussed in light of the observed constraints by the protocols used and should serve as a useful basis for future studies on the presence of TTX in European amphibians.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc by research)
Contributors: Jehle, R (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Rosa Michaela Wagstaff
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 14:58
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2021 14:58

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