Khor, S., Wood, S. A., Salvitti, L., Ragg, N. L. C., Taylor, D., ..., Cary, S. C. (2013). Development of a non-lethal biopsy technique for estimating total tetrodotoxin concentrations in the grey side-gilled sea slug Pleurobranchaea maculate. Toxicon, published online August 2, 2013.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7859
High concentrations of tetrodotoxin (TTX) have been detected in some New Zealand populations of Pleurobranchaea maculata (grey side-gilled sea slug). Within toxic populations there is significant variability in TTX concentrations among individuals, with up to 60-fold differences measured. This variability has led to challenges when conducting controlled laboratory experiments. The current method for assessing TTX concentrations within P. maculata is lethal, thus multiple individuals must be harvested at each sampling point to produce statistically meaningful data. In this study a method was developed for taking approximately 200 mg tissue biopsies using a TemnoEvolution® 18G × 11 cm Biopsy Needle inserted transversely into the foot. Correlation between the TTX concentrations in the biopsy sample and total TTX levels and in individual tissues were assessed. Six P. maculata were biopsied twice (nine days apart) and each individual was frozen immediately following the second sampling. Tetrodotoxin concentrations in biopsy samples and in the gonad, stomach, mantle and the remaining combined tissues and fluids were measured using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Based on the proportional weight of the organs/tissues a total TTX concentration for each individual was calculated. There were strong correlations between biopsy TTX concentrations and the total (r2 = 0.88), stomach (r2 = 0.92) and gonad (r2 = 0.83) TTX concentrations. This technique will enable more robust laboratory studies to be undertaken, thereby assisting in understanding TTX kinetics, ecological function and origin within P. maculata.