In some parts of the world, cyanobacteria are used as a food in the human diet, due to their ready availability. Lake Chad, has long been a traditional site for the collection of Arthrospira fusiformis which is dried and processed at the lake into thin wafers called Dihé for later consumption or is transported to market for sale. However, Dihé purchased from markets in Chad has not been analyzed for known cyanobacterial toxins or assessed for total amino acid content. Since BMAA in traditional foodstuffs of the indigenous Chamorro people of Guam causes neurodegenerative illness, it is important that Dihé from Chad be analyzed for this neurotoxin. BMAA and its isomer AEG were not detected in our analyses, but a further isomer DAB was detected as both a free and bound amino acid, with an increase in the free concentration after acid hydrolysis of this fraction. Microcystins were present in 6 samples at up to 20 μg/g according to UPLC-PDA, although their presence could not be confirmed using PCR for known microcystin synthetic genes. Amino acid analysis of the cyanobacterial material from Chad showed the presence of large amounts of canonical amino acids, suggesting that this may supplement indigenous people on low protein diets, although regular monitoring of the foodstuffs for the presence of cyanotoxins should be performed.
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- Neurodegenerative disease