Cyanotoxin / Algal Toxin Analysis

Don’t know which method to choose? Begin with our description of services to better understand what information each test provides.

For water samples, we recommend the following methods for the most commonly reported cyanotoxins. Please contact us for pricing.

Analyte Method
Microcystin / Nodularins Adda ELISA
Cylindrospermopsin LC-MS/MS
Anatoxin-a LC-MS/MS
Saxitoxins ELISA

Below, you can find more information on the different tests we offer by both ELISA and HPLC methods, with detection limits for water samples. All analyses are conducted by professionals in the field of chemistry with rigorous QA/QC.    


(Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay)

ELISAs are very popular screening assays that provide limited quantitative information for specific groups of cyanotoxins. ELISAs typically have the ability to detect toxins at low levels for both surface and drinking waters. 

It should be noted that ELISAs are also prone to sample matrix interference that may confound results, leading to erroneous conclusions.It is important to have the ability to verify any positive ELISA responses with other techniques, such as HPLC coupled with PDA, FL or MS.

Algal Toxins analyzed with ELISA:

Algal Toxin Reporting Limit
ng/mL (ppb)
Microcystins / Nodularins 0.30 Adda ELISA (Method 546 & Ohio EPA DES 701.0)
Cylindrospermopsin 0.10 Cylindrospermopsin (522011)
Saxitoxin 0.05 STX specific assay (52255B)
Brevetoxin (NSP) 0.25 PbTx3 specific assay (MarbioNC Assay)
Guanitoxin (previously known as anatoxin-a(s)) qualitative screen Organophosphate / Carbamate specific assay (550051)


Liquid Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry/Mass Spectrometry

GWL/CL currently maintains and operates multiple high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems with photodiode array (PDA), fluorescence (FL), and mass spectrometry (Ion Trap and Triple Quad) detection. This provides GWL/CL the ability to report data with a high level of confidence as well as the ability to supply confirmatory analysis on ELISA data.

Algal Toxins analyzed with HPLC-MS/MS:
Algal Toxin MDL (ppb - ng/mL) Method
Microcystins / Nodularin
dmMC-RR (2), MC-RR, NOD, MC-YR, MC-HtyR, MC-LR, dmMC-LR (3), MC-HilR, MC-WR, [Leu1]MC-LR, MC-RY, MC-LY, MC-LA, MC-LW, MC-LF
0.01-0.10 Foss & Aubel 2015
Total Microcystins using MMPB 0.05 Foss & Aubel 2015
Cylindrospermopsin / Epi-cylindrospermopsin 0.05 Foss & Aubel 2013
Anatoxin-a / Homoanatoxin-a 0.05 Foss et al. 2018
Anatoxin-a / Cylindrospermopsin 0.03 / 0.05 (NELAC certified through FDOH)
Saxitoxins (Paralytic Shellfish Toxins)
Including analogs: STX, dcSTX, NEO, C1C2, GTX 1,2,3,4,5,6, dcGTX23
0.02 - 0.60 Yilmaz et al. 2018
BMAA (includes isomers BAMA, 2,4-DAB, 3,4-DAB & AEG) 0.5 - 10.0 Foss et al. 2018
Domoic Acid 0.05 In House LC-MS/MS
Dermatoxins (Lyngbyatoxin-A, Aplysiatoxin/Debromoaplysiatoxin) 0.1 - 5.0 In House LC-MS/MS
Okadaic Acid & Dinophysistoxins 1 & 2 (DSP) 0.05 - 2.00 In House LC-MS/MS
Brevetoxins (PbTx 2 & 3) 0.05 - 2.00 In House LC-MS/MS
Method Detection Limits

Method Detection/Reporting Limits (MDLs & MRLs) are based on water samples and may vary depending on spike (LFM) returns. Other toxin analyses are available but not listed. Please call regarding your specific needs.

Rapid Turnaround Times

Rapid turnaround times are available on most toxin analyses conducted on water samples. Please call for rapid TAT requests.

Complex Matrices

GreenWater Laboratories conducts cyanotoxin analyses on many different biological matrices, including tissues and food products.

We have developed many methods to address exposure to HABs and you can find our research on our articles page.

For more information on analyzing biological matrices, click here.

Additional extraction charges do apply to complicated matrices. Please contact us with specific requests.