Marine Microbial Biotoxins Facility

The Marine Microbial Biotoxins Facility (MMBF) at SIMS is a unique and specialist laboratory that employs a variety of techniques to analyse an array of environmental samples for chemical compounds at trace concentrations.

The MMBF was formed through a collaborative partnership between scientists at the University of NSW, the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Tasmania, the SIMS Foundation, and the Cawthron Institute (New Zealand).

The MMBF houses the LC-HRMS, which is comprised of a Waters Acquity UPLC with a PDA detector coupled to the Thermo Scientific QExactive Orbitrap HRMS. This instrument can be used for targeted and untargeted analyses of biotoxins, metabolomic profiling, and molecular formula identification at trace levels against complex background samples to suit research and industry needs.

The MMBF’s specialist chemists provide technical capacity to develop and validate sample extraction and analysis methods to suit the needs of researchers and external clients. The MMBF is supported by a range of chemical and analytical equipment that can be employed for research and commercial purposes.

The facility has supported numerous research projects including industry-supported FRDC and ARC grants, participated in inter-laboratory testing, and provided specialist testing to NSW Government Departments including the NSW Food Authority and NSW DPIE. A list of peer-reviewed publications to which the Facility has contributed can be found here.

Instrument Capabilities

We can quantify trace levels of compounds using LC-PDA, LC-MS, and LC-MS/MS techniques for targeted and untargeted analyses.

MS and MS/MS scan types include:


  • Single ion monitoring (SIM)
  • Parallel reaction Monitoring (PRM)


  • Full MS
  • Full MS/AIF
  • Data dependent analysis (DDA)
  • Data independent analysis (DIA)

Extraction Techniques

We routinely perform extractions of biotoxins from shellfish, fish, algae, and seawater matrices, including:

  • Biotoxins that cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP)
  • Biotoxins that cause Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP)
  • Saxitoxin and analogues that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)
  • Palytoxins, tetrodotoxin, ciguatoxins, and microcystins

A detailed list the extraction procedures commonly performed in the MMBF, and the laboratory capabilities for extraction can be found here.

Services Available

Our experienced Facility staff offer support and services to researchers and commercial clients for sample extraction and analysis. Please find a list of the services available through the Marine Microbial Biotoxins Facility here.

Information on how to acknowledge the contributions of our scientists to your research and commercial projects can be found here.

Marine Microbial Biotoxin Facility Staff

Mr Jake Violi. PhD candidate, BSc. (Hons I)

Jake has extensive experience in various chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques, and in method development for the extraction and analysis of toxins, metabolites, lipids, proteins, and heavy metals. Jake adapts and develops methods to suit client and researcher needs, and trains external users on extraction protocols and instrument operation.

Jake is in the final stages his PhD at the University of Technology Sydney, in liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analysis of protein and non-protein amino acids from a wide array of different sample matrices.