Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science

First Advisor's Name

John Berry

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

DeEtta Mills

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Anthony DeCaprio

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


MALDI-TOF-MS, cyanobacteria, BMAA, MALDI, β-N-Methylamino-L-alanine, neurotoxin, Parkinson's, PDC, neurodegenerative diseases, ALS, quantitation

Date of Defense



Beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is a non-protein amino acid produced by many cyanobacteria, and thought to induce neurotoxic effects through excitotoxicity, contributing to neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Parkinsonism-dementia complex (ALS-PDC) and Alzheimer’s. The ubiquitous nature of cyanobacteria, and evidence of biomagnification through our food web, creates a dire need for the development of an analytical platform that will provide accurate identification and quantification of BMAA amounts in our ecosystem and potential food supply. The present study evaluated the ability of a MALDI-ToF-MS method to detect and quantify BMAA in a variety of biological matrices. Through validation procedures, it was demonstrated that this MALDI-ToF-MS method provided comparable data to currently accepted analytical methods, specifically LC-MS/MS. Further, the development of said method reduced sample preparation and data acquisition time (1-2 seconds per sample), while providing high throughput analysis and eliminating the need for derivatization, chromatographic separation, and modification of amino acids.





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