Laboratory study has provided a better understanding of the reasons for the variable toxicity of waterblooms of blue-green algae. At least two toxins, produced by strains of Microcystis aeruginosa and Anabaena flos-aquae, are responsible for acute poisonings of various animals. Bacteria associated with the algae also produce toxins that are responsible for less acute poisonings. The effects of algal and bacterial toxins may be superimposed. Microcystis fast-death factor is a cyclic polypeptide of moderate toxicity which kills livestock and other animals but not waterfowl. The structure of Anabaena very-fast-death factor is not yet known. It kills a variety of animals, including waterfowl. Variable toxicity of waterblooms is determined by: 1) dominance by toxic strains of algae or bacteria, or both; 2) concentration of toxic organisms; 3) release of toxin(s); and 4) consumption of toxin(s) in sufficient amounts by susceptible animals before appreciable dilution, adsorption or destruction occurs.


Toxin Production Microcystis Aeruginosa Toxic Alga Toxic Strain Toxic Bloom 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Gorham
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Applied BiologyNational Research CouncilOttawaCanada

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