Potential Harmful Microalgae in Muttukadu Backwater, Southeast Coast of India

  • B. Balaji Prasath
  • P. Santhanam
  • R. Nandakumar
  • T. Jayalakshmi


Phytoplankters are the primary producers of organic matter and the nourishment of many food webs in aquatic surroundings (Moestrup et al. 2010), and furthermore phytoplankton are good indicators of environmental change, hence contributing to the assessment of eutrophication stages in aquatic ecosystems (Tas and Yilmaz 2015). High phytoplankton production can also affect the water quality, producing toxins in the aquatic system. This may cause massive kills of living marine resources as well as terrestrial animals (Anderson et al. 2012). Eutrophication triggers various physicochemical alternations in the aquatic ecosystem, especially in marine and freshwater environment, and dramatically increased the microalgal cell abundance; due to these proliferations, some toxin-producing species or harmful algal blooms may create problems in the formation of the public fitness and wellbeing. These blooms are referred to as harmful algal blooms (HABs). The numerous numbers of toxic species are found among dinoflagellates, but evidence has been offered for several species of other taxa like diatoms, flagellates and cyanobacteria suggesting that they belong in this HAB category (Vershinin and Orlova 2008; Moestrup et al. 2010). Over the last one decade, increasing attention has been devoted to surveys of HABs in both aquatic ecosystems, because of the health hazard and their negative influence on aquaculture, recreation and tourism (Paerl and Huisman 2008). Studies of these microorganisms are commonly supported on the microscopic identification and enumeration of the cells of interest. Likewise, evaluation of the potential toxic hazard of discrimination specimen is based on direct identification and quantification of the toxins through immunochemical, chemical or biological methods. Potentially harmful microalgae are commonly found to appear in moderate numbers but under certain conditions may figure large glow that can have devastating expression of the environment (Moestrup and Larsen 1992). The present paper deals with the surveying and documenting of the occurrence of harmful microalgae in Muttukadu backwater, southeast coast of India.



Authors are thankful to the authorities of Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, for the facilities provided. Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India, is greatly acknowledged for the microalgae culture facility provided through the extramural project (BT/PR 5856/AAQ/3/598/2012). Authors (BB) and (RN) thank the DST and CSIR, Govt. of India, for the research fellowship.


  1. Anderson, D.M., A.D. Cembella, and G.M. Hallegraeff. 2012. Progress in understanding harmful algal blooms: Paradigm shifts and new technologies for research, monitoring, and management. Annual Review Marine Science 4: 143–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balaji Prasath, B., R. Nandakumar, T. Jayalakshmi, and P. Santhanam. 2014. First report on the intense cyanobacteria Microcystis aeruginosa Kutzing, 1846 bloom at Muttukadu Backwater, Southeast coast of India. Indian Journal of Marine Sciences 43 (2): 258–262.Google Scholar
  3. Campbell, L., R.J. Olson, and H.M. Sosik. 2008. First toxic Dinophysis bloom observed in the Gulf of Mexico, USA. Harmful Algae News 36: 10–11.Google Scholar
  4. Cembella, A.D., I.A. Ibarra, J. Diogene, and E. Dahl. 2005. Harmful algal blooms and their assessment in fjords and coastal embayments. Oceanography 18: 158–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Escalera, L., Y. Pazos, A. Moroño, and B. Reguera. 2007. Noctiluca scintillans may act as a vector of toxigenic microalgae. Harmful Algae 6 (3): 317–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Evagelopoulos, A. 2002. Taxonomic notes on Protoperidinium (Peridiniales, Dinophyceae) species in the Thermaikos Bay (North Aegean Sea, Greece). Mediterranean Marine Sciences 3 (2): 41–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Harper, D. 1992. Eutrophication of Freshwaters. London: Chapman and Hall. 327pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hoppenrath, M., M. Elbrӓchter, and G. Drebes. 2009. Marine Phytoplankton. Selected microphytoplankton Species from the North Sea Around Helgoland and Sylt. Stuttgart: E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. 264 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Horner, R.A. 2002. A Taxonomic Guide to Some Common Phytoplankton, 200. Dorchester: Biopress Limited, Dorset Press.Google Scholar
  10. Liefer, J.D., H.L. MacIntyre, L. Novoveská, W.L. Smith, and C.P. Dorsey. 2009. Temporal and spatial variability in Pseudo-nitzschia spp. in Alabama Coastal waters: A “hot spot” linked to submarine groundwater discharge? Harmful Algae 8: 706–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Metaxatos, A., and C. Panagiotopoulos. 2003. Ignatiades, L. Monosaccharide and amino acid composition of mucilage material produced from a mixture of four phytoplanktonic taxa. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 294: 203–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Moestrup, O., and J. Larsen. 1992. Potentially toxic phytoplankton. 1. Haptophyceae (Prymnesiophyceae). In ICES Identification Leaflets for Plankton. Copenhagen: ICES.Google Scholar
  13. Moestrup, O., R. Akselman, G. Cronberg, M. Elbraechter, S. Fraga, Y. Halim, G. Hansen, M. Hoppenrath, J. Larsen, N. Lundholm, L.N. Nguyen, and A. Zingone. 2010. IOC-UNESCO Taxonomic Reference List of Harmful Micro Algae (HABs). Accessed 3 March.
  14. Nikolaidis, G., K. Koukaras, K. Aligizaki, A. Heracleous, E. Kalopesa, K. Moschandreou, E. Tsolaki, and A. Mantoudis. 2005. Harmful microalgal episodes in Greek coastal waters. Journal of Biological Research-Thessaloniki 3: 77–85.Google Scholar
  15. Paerl, H.W., and J. Huisman. 2008. Blooms like it hot. Science 320: 57–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ranston, E.R., D.F. Webber, and J. Larsen. 2006. The first description of the potentially toxic dinoflagellate, Alexandrium minutum in Hunts Bay, Kingston Harbour, Jamaica. Harmful Algae 16: 29–47.Google Scholar
  17. Ruggiero, M.V., D. Sarno, L. Barra, W.H.C.F. Kooistra, M. Montresor, et al. 2015. Diversity and temporal pattern of Pseudo-nitzschia species (Bacillariophyceae) through the molecular lens. Harmful Algae 42: 15–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Smithsonian Institution. 2012. Noctiluca scintillans (Macartney) Kofoid and Swezy 1921. Accessed 29 Feb 2012.
  19. Spatharis, S., N.P. Dolapsakis, A. Economou-Amilli, G. Tsirtsis, and D.B. Danielidis. 2009. Dynamics of potentially harmful microalgae in a confined Mediterranean gulf-assessing the risk of bloom formation. Harmful Algae 8: 736–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Steidinger, K.A., and J. Williams. 1970. Dinoflagellates. Mem. Hourglass Cruises 2: 1–251.Google Scholar
  21. Subrahmanyan, R. 1946. A systematic account of the marine plankton diatoms of the Madras coast. Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Science 24: 85–197.Google Scholar
  22. Sukhanova, Z.N. 1978. Settling without inverted microscope. In Phytoplankton Manual, UNESCO, ed A. Sourlna. Page Brothers (Nourich) Ltd., 97pp.Google Scholar
  23. Tas, S., and I.N. Yilmaz. 2015. Potentially harmful microalgae and algal blooms in a eutrophic estuary in the Sea of Marmara (Turkey). Mediterranean Marine Science 16 (2): 432–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tas, S., I.N. Yilmaz, and E. Okus. 2009. Phytoplankton as an indicator of improving water quality in the Golden Horn Estuary. Estuaries and Coasts 32: 1205–1224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Taylor, F.J.R., 1976. Dinoflagellates from the International Indian Ocean Expedition. A report on material collected by the R.V ‘Anton Bruun’ 1963–1964. Bibl. Bot. Heft., 132: 1–226.Google Scholar
  26. Vershinin, A.O., and T.Y. Orlova. 2008. Toxic and harmful algae in the coastal waters of Russia. Marine Biology 48: 524–537.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Balaji Prasath
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. Santhanam
    • 2
  • R. Nandakumar
    • 1
  • T. Jayalakshmi
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist UniversityUnited International CollegeZhuhaiChina
  2. 2.Marine Planktonology & Aquaculture Lab., Department of Marine Science, School of Marine SciencesBharathidasan UniversityTiruchirappalliIndia
  3. 3.National Centre for Sustainable Coastal ManagementMinistry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC)ChennaiIndia

Personalised recommendations