Distinguishing the cyanobacterial neurotoxin beta-N - methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) from other diamino acids

S. A. Banack, J. S. Metcalf, Z. Spacil, T. G. Downing, S. Downing, A. Long, Peter B. Nunn, Paul A. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


β-N-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) is produced by diverse taxa of cyanobacteria, and has been detected by many investigators who have searched for it in cyanobacterial blooms, cultures and collections. Although BMAA is distinguishable from proteinogenic amino acids and its isomer 2,4-DAB using standard chromatographic and mass spectroscopy techniques routinely used for the analysis of amino acids, we studied whether BMAA could be reliably distinguished from other diamino acids, particularly 2,6-diaminopimelic acid which has been isolated from the cell walls of many bacterial species. We used HPLC-FD, UHPLC-UV, UHPLC-MS, and triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS) to differentiate BMAA from the diamino acids 2,6-diaminopimelic acid, N-2(amino)ethylglycine, lysine, ornithine, 2,4-diaminosuccinic acid, homocystine, cystine, tryptophan, as well as other amino acids including asparagine, glutamine, and methionine methylsulfonium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-738
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


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