Development of the nuclear technique (RBA) for the detection of paralyzing toxins in seawater and in bivalve molluscs (Project RAF 7014) 23 to 27 April 2018 - Rabat

In the framework of the RAF7014-Morocco project, the partners of the National Institute for Fisheries Research, represented by the Head of the Marine Monitoring Department, the researchers of the biotoxins and phytoplankton unit and the INRH Regional Center in Agadir, the National Center for Energy, Nuclear Science and Technology (CNESTEN), represented by the RRS unit, and the IAEA Environment Laboratory, Monaco (Y. Dechraoui), met from 23 to 27 April 2018 in Rabat to discuss the new nuclear technique called Radioligand Binding Assay (RBA), currently being developed in Morocco for the detection of toxic microalgae and its development for the control of risks related to consumption of shellfish contaminated by biotoxins.

 This project focuses on the detection of paralytic toxins in seawater and bivalve molluscs, using nuclear techniques (RBA). It is carried out in a fruitful cooperation framework between INRH, CNESTEN and IAEA. At regional level, the RAF project has strengthened the technical capacities of African partners (North and West Africa) in the sampling, identification and enumeration of toxic phytoplankton species and in the development of expertise of Moroccan laboratories in the field of analysis of PSP toxins by the RBA method. The expertise and the mastery of the RBA technique by INRH and CNESTEN researchers allow our laboratories to be considered as a reference on a regional scale.

 Conducted since 2017 in Morocco, the project has yielded very satisfactory correlation results between the biological biotoxin detection method (MBA) and the nuclear one (RBA). These results will be published in international journals.

 At the end of this meeting and thanks to the good progress of the project, the expertise acquired in the use of the RBA and the existing expertise at INRH in monitoring biotoxins and HAB, Mr Benbrahim S ., the head of the marine environment monitoring department at INRH suggested to develop this method for the detection of emerging toxins mainly ciguatoxins (CTX). The latter, which did not previously exist in the Moroccan waters, are currently attracting more interest because of the appearance of some phytoplankton species producing ciguatoxins in certain areas of the Moroccan Atlantic coast and the identification of such toxins in waters near the Moroccan coast (Canary Islands….). The control of these toxins in fishery products imported from countries whose waters are known by the appearance of this type of phycotoxins would be a necessity for the protection of the consumer. Also, the efflorescence of the species producing this toxin in the Moroccan waters can be caused by the impact of climate change, which is starting to be felt more and more in all regions of the world.

 From a preventive perspective in order to protect the consumer of fish products and to contribute to the socio-economic development of the fishing sector, INRH suggested the integration of this study within the framework of the RAF 7014 project and to develop it in a broader concept of national program in partnership with the IAEA. This program will also provide expertise in this area and share it with regional partners.