CORDIS - EU research results

Emergent toxins on the Portuguese coast: occurrence, transfer kinetics and toxicity

Project description

Emergent toxins in Portugal’s waters

In recent years, toxins from tropical environments have been detected in coastal waters in the European Union (EU). This situation requires additional monitoring programs, enhanced legislation and methods for analysing the toxins. Still, because of limited quantitative data and analytical methodology, it is impossible to determine the risk associated with the exposure to emerging toxins in the EU. The EU-funded ETOXPT project aims to assess the current situation along Portugal’s coasts using reliable LC-MS/MS methods. The project will help develop predictive models of risk assessment, contributing to the integration of emergent toxins in shellfish monitoring programs.


The occurrence of toxins typical from tropical environments in European Union (EU) temperate coastal waters has been sporadically reported in the past years, usually preceded by human intoxication episodes. Therefore, in order to avoid public health impacts, there is a need for adequate monitoring programs, establishing appropriate legislation, and for optimizing effective methods for the analysis of these toxins. However, due to the very limited quantitative data and the lack of validated analytical methodology, risk associated with the exposure to emergent toxins in EU is currently not possible to determine. In ETOXPT, we will assess the current situation on the incidence and routes of exposure of emergent toxins (i.e. ciguatoxins, CTXs; tetrodotoxin, TTX; palytoxins, PLTXs; and ß-methylamino-L-alanine, BMAA) in Portuguese coastal waters using reliable LC-MS/MS methods. Additionally, the relationship of emergent toxins concentrations and profiles within trophic levels will be evaluated. These field data will be complemented with a mesocosm experiment, in which the potential of CTXs transfer, biotransformation and biodegradation along the food web will be predicted. We will also evaluate the cytotoxicity of individual PLTXs and CTXs analogues. Concurrently, we will develop innovative approaches to analyze the emergent toxins using nanocontainers. ETOXPT will be useful to advance understanding of emergent toxins kinetics, both within individuals and among trophic levels and could support the development of predictive models of risk assessment and contribute to the integration of emergent toxins in shellfish monitoring programs.

Call for proposal


See other projects for this call

Sub call



Net EU contribution
€ 147 815,04
8005-139 FARO

See on map

Continente Algarve Algarve
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 147 815,04