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Deadly nuts – detection of 3-nitropropionic acid in coconuts

In: World Mycotoxin Journal
Authors:
K. Ringsborg Westphal Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2134-6636
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N. Vittrup Andersen Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark

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https://orcid.org/0009-0001-2200-9837
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B. Uttrup Dideriksen Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark

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https://orcid.org/0009-0007-1532-8729
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A. Filtenborg Gunggaard Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark

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https://orcid.org/0009-0005-4613-8878
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M.A. Duus Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark

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https://orcid.org/0009-0009-7037-6648
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T.E. Sondergaard Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4455-7498
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Abstract

The secondary metabolite 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NPA) is produced by certain fungi. The metabolite is a potent toxin which inhibits the citric acid cycle. A medical case from 2021 described a 69-year-old Danish man who ingested 3-nitropropionic acid contaminated coconut water. The man died 26 hours after ingestion. Subsequent analysis identified Apiospora saccharicola as the fungi responsible for synthesising 3-NPA in the coconut. The metabolic pathway for 3-NPA is unknown but is thought to be activated by adverse growth conditions. This study aimed to confirm that Apiospora can produce 3-NPA within coconuts and develop a quick and easy method for detection of 3-NPA in coconut water using 1H NMR. This method can possibly aid in detection of 3-NPA in contaminated groceries, such as coconut water.

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