Ecotoxicity assessment of microcystins from freshwater samples using a bioluminescent cyanobacterial bioassay.


Departamento de Biología, C/Darwin, 2, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049, Madrid, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]


The hepatotoxic cyanotoxins microcystins (MCs) are emerging contaminants naturally produced by cyanobacteria. Yet their ecological role remains unsolved, previous research suggests that MCs have allelopathic effects on competing photosynthetic microorganisms, even eliciting toxic effects on other freshwater cyanobacteria. In this context, the bioluminescent recombinant cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC7120 CPB4337 (hereinafter Anabaena) was exposed to extracts of MCs. These were obtained from eight natural samples from freshwater reservoirs that contained MCs with a concentration range of 0.04-11.9 μg MCs L-1. MCs extracts included the three most common MCs variants (MC-LR, MC-RR, MC-YR) in different proportions (MC-LR: 100-0%; MC-RR: 100-0%; MC-YR: 14.2-0%). The Anabaena bioassay based on bioluminescence inhibition has been successfully used to test the toxicity of many emerging contaminants (e.g., pharmaceuticals) but never for cyanotoxins prior to this study. Exposure of Anabaena to MCs extracts induced a decrease in its bioluminescence with effective concentration decreasing bioluminescence by 50% ranging from 0.4 to 50.5 μg MC L-1 in the different samples. Bioluminescence responses suggested an interaction between MCs variants which was analyzed via the Additive Index method (AI), indicating an antagonistic effect (AI < 0) of MC-LR and MC-RR present in the samples. Additionally, MC extracts exposure triggered an increase of intracellular free Ca2+ in Anabaena. In short, this study supports the use of the Anabaena bioassay as a sensitive tool to assess the presence of MCs at environmentally relevant concentrations and opens interesting avenues regarding the interactions between MCs variants and the possible implication of Ca2+ in the mode of action of MCs towards cyanobacteria.


Additive index,Anabaena,Bioassay,Bioluminescence,Cyanotoxin,Intracellular free Ca(2+),

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