shellfish poisoning strikes hundreds of people worldwide each
year. The substance that causes it, saxitoxin, is difficult
to detect. But some scientists are developing a fast, cheap
test. Today, testing for poisons in - Our Ocean World.
produced by algae called dinoflagellates, (dyno-fladge-uh-lits)
is so toxic that it is classified as a schedule one (1) chemical
weapon - along with mustard gas and sarin. People are poisoned
when they eat shellfish and other seafood laden with the substance.
monitor shellfish beds using mice, much like miner's canaries
of the past. This practice is expensive and ethically contentious.
Chemist Roger Leblanc and his colleagues at the University of
Miami wanted to make something better.
felt if it is possible to have a biosensor with the same
sensitiivty, we will save first of all any mouse. . .
. Second, the price of the biosensor might be quite cheap.
Researchers combined two chemicals to produce a compound that
glows only in water that contains the toxin. The hybrid chemical
comes from a class of molecules called crown ethers which fluoresce
when illuminated with ultraviolet light. Now they're trying
to develop a handheld sensor and light source that can be used
by fishermen anywhere. I'm Marilyn Cooley.
Ocean World is produced in cooperation with the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration-NOAA. Learn more about our natural
© 2003 Finger Lakes Productions International