Screening for cyanobacterial hepatotoxins in herring and salmon from the Baltic Sea

Vesa O. Sipiä*, Kirsti Lahti, Harri T. Kankaanpää, Pekka J. Vuorinen, Jussi A.O. Meriluoto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Nodularin, a cyclic pentapeptide hepatotoxin closely related to microcystins, is produced by the toxic brackish water cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena which regularly forms blooms in the Baltic Sea. Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras L.) and salmon (Salmo salar L.) were caught in the Baltic Sea during 1997 to assess levels of nodularin and microcystins resulting from the blooms. The total toxin content in herring muscle and salmon liver was measured with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Despite exceptionally heavy blooms of toxic Nodularia in the Baltic Sea during the summer of 1997, Baltic herring and salmon contained very low quantities of nodularin and microcystins (2.5-6.5 ng g-1 dry weight, not corrected for recovery, [30%]). These concentrations do not pose a health threat to humans, based on the World Health Organization value of tolerable daily intake. Moreover, the concentrations we found in salmon and herring were much lower than those reported for livers of European flounder (Platichthys flesus L.) or Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) from the Baltic Sea during 1996-1999. We suspect that cyanobacterial hepatotoxins do not effectively accumulate in herring and salmon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-456
Number of pages6
JournalAquatic Ecosystem Health and Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Microcystin
  • Nodularin


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