Untreated wastewater is known to cause environmental problems such as the cost to coral reefs, tourism and losses in fisheries. In addition, the incorporation of pollutant chemicals to marine life can have detrimental effects on human health. This is particularly true of marine algae which are eaten by fish which are then consumed by the human population. Samples of two species of algae (Chaetomorpha linum and Hormophysa triquetra) collected off the coast of Um Bab and Fuwairit, Qatar, were compared for fatty acid profiles. The two locations are known to have different environmental pollution conditions due to the location of Ras Laffan close to Fuwairit and no significant industry close to Um Bab. It was hypothesised that changes in environmental toxins would result in differing fatty acid profiles within the same species of algae. In addition, detection of halogenated fatty acids was attempted. In order to test this, efforts were made to break down the algae cell walls, extract lipids and break down the lipids into fatty acids. These fatty acids were analysed by ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-TOF). The analysis resulted in a large data set of fatty acids and a great deal of variation was seen in the same species of algae from different locations. Correlation and anomaly analysis suggests that this will be a powerful technique in Marine Chemical Cartography, with both immediate significance, and in the establishment of a novel analytical technology. This study proposes that a greater survey of marine plants and animals in the waters of Qatar would be useful in determining the health risks of a population highly dependent on the food and water of its seas.

Dr Shana Jacoba, Amira Al-Jabirya, Dr Jassim Al-Khayatb, Dr Hala Al-Easab


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  • Received: 16 May 2012
  • Accepted: 16 May 2012
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