First Observation of Microcystins in Tunisian inland waters: a threat to river mouths and lagoon ecosystems


1 - Microcystin pollution is known to affect different types of inland water bodies: river mouths and coastal lagoons may be affected by local production as well as by transportation through the freshwater network. Physicochemical and biological water quality, including the total microcystin concentration, was investigated from July to December 2003 in the reservoir Hjar, Tunisia. 2 - Microcystin levels and characterization of the different microcystin variants present were measured by protein phosphatase inhibition assays (PP2A) and by high performance liquid chromatography coupled to diode array detector and tandem mass spectrometry, respectively. The microscopic examination of the phytoplankton samples showed the dominance of the Oscillatoria and Pseudoanabaena genera. The total (particulate and dissolved) microcystin concentrations in the reservoir water varied between 23.4 and 7455.2 ng/l microcystin-LR equivalent per liter. 3 - The highest MCYST concentration was observed in November 2003. The analysis of the field bloom extract from this month by HPLC coupled to photodiode-array detector revealed the presence of five peaks having characteristic spectra of microcystins with a maximum of absorbance at 238 nm. HPLC/MS/MS analysis of this sample demonstrated the presence of three variants of microcystins: microcystin-LR (MCYST-LR), microcystin- (MCYST-RR), microcystin- (MCYST-YR). Therefore, estuaries of rivers contaminated by cyanobacteria toxins may play an important role on the transfer of these cyanotoxins through food chains.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv1n2p73

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