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Detecting formaldehyde and dimethylamine in fish

Trimethylamine oxide (TMO) is broken down to formaldehyde and dimethylamine by the enzyme TMOase when cod fish are frozen and stored. Extracting and measuring the amount of this enzyme in fish is important in helping to determine the quality of fish. It's the focus of researchers from Germany, Denmark and Spain. Efforts are underway to characterize the enzyme in order to obtain the data needed to purify it. In addition, its intracellular localization is being studied, as well as its activity in the tissues of hake and whiting.

Investigators have developed a fast, reliable test for TMOase, based on the reaction of the generated formaldehyde with nicotinamide dinucleotide, the product of which is measured spectrophotometrically, or by using a microplate reader. A simple low-cost test system has also been developed in which formaldehyde levels are determined with the use of a test strip.

Very high TMOase activity was found in the kidney, spleen and stomach wall of cod, saithe and whiting. These tissues were also used to determine the intracellular localization of TMOase activity. It was highest in the lysosomal and mitochondrial fractions. These data will help determine the quality and shelflife of fish and will be of major use to fish processors and distributors.

Further information. H. Rehbein, Federal Research Centre for Fisheries, Institute of Biochemistry and Technology, Palmaille 9, D-22767 Hamburg, Germany; phone: +49-40-38905-167; Fax: +49-40-38905-262.
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Apr 1, 1998
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