A review on factors affecting microcystins production by algae in aquatic environments


Microcystins, a toxin produced by Microcystis aeruginosa have become a global environmental issue in recent years. As a consequence of eutrophication, microcystins have become widely disseminated in drinking water sources, seriously impairing drinking water quality. This review focuses on the relationship between microcystins synthesis and physical, chemical, and biological environmental factors that are significant in controlling their production. Light intensity and temperature are the more important physical factors, and in many cases, an optimum level for these two factors has been observed. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the key chemical factors causing frequent occurrence of harmful algal blooms and microcystins production. The absorption of nutrients and metabolic activities of algae are affected by different concentrations and forms of nitrogen and phosphorus, leading to variations in microcystins production Metal ions and emerging pollutants are other significant chemical factors, whose comprehensive impact is still being studied. Algae can also interact with biological agents like predators and competitors in aquatic environments, and such interactions are suggested to promote MCs production and release. This review further highlights areas that require further research in order to gain a better understanding of microcystins production. It provides a theoretical basis for the control of microcystins production and releasing into aquatic environments.

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The authors wish to express their gratitude to the special fund from the State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control (Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences) (Project No. 15K03ESPCR) and Shanghai Natural Science Foundation (15ZR1402100).

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Correspondence to Ruihua Dai.

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Dai, R., Wang, P., Jia, P. et al. A review on factors affecting microcystins production by algae in aquatic environments. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 32, 51 (2016) doi:10.1007/s11274-015-2003-2

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  • Algae
  • Aquatic environments
  • Environmental factors
  • Microcystins
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus