Analysis of Microcystins in Bottled, Tap, and Surface Water with 2D-LC Technology

By January 12, 2015

The Application of UPLC/MS[E] for the Analysis of Bile Acids in Biological Fluids - See more at:

Algae bloom is the result of a rapid accumulation of cyanobacteria in freshwater and other ecosystems. Their presence is predominantly linked to excess nutrients (fertilizers) from water runoff. In some instances, harmful blooms can pose a serious health threat to humans and animals, and may also negatively impact several economic activities (fisheries, recreational parks, water treatment plants, etc).

The health risk stems from the ability of cyanobacteria to produce neurotoxins, which through skin contact and water consumption can lead to several illnesses and even death.  In 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) set a guideline value of 1 ppb for total microcystin LR in drinking water. Microcystins are the most commonly detected of the cyanotoxins.

While several analytical procedures can be found in the literature using various affinity techniques, liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry detection is the most common approach for the analysis of microcystins in water.

Water analysis brings a wide range of analytical challenges, especially during sample preparation. Waters ACQUITY UPLC System with 2D Technologies employs solvent managers, a sample manager, a column manager, optical devices, the Xevo TQD Mass Spectrometer, and a wide range of separation chemistries to facilitate multi-dimensional analyses:

  • Faster extraction protocol (15 minutes)
  • Smaller sample volume allows much faster loading times, an average of 10 minutes or less.
  • With the 2D at-column dilution configuration, aqueous and organic extracts can be loaded and captured on a trap column more efficiently.
  • Trace-level detection (low ppt) to meet required target detection limits.

In this application note, a sequential micro-extraction protocol was evaluated for the analysis of microcystin RR, LR, and YR in bottled, tap, and surface water. The entire extraction protocol was completed in less than 15 minutes. To learn more, view the complete application note.