Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global warming favors proliferation of toxic cyanobacteria

Date:
July 3, 2012
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Cyanobacterial populations, primitive aquatic microorganisms, are frequently-encountered in water bodies especially in summer. Their numbers have increased in recent decades and scientists suspect that global warming may be behind the phenomenon, and are particularly concerned by the increase in toxic cyanobacteria, which affect human and animal health.

The "green slime" often observed in lakes, reservoirs and rivers is normally cyanobacteria. Image:
Credit: Francisca F. del Campo

Cyanobacterial populations, primitive aquatic microorganisms, are frequently-encountered in water bodies especially in summer. Their numbers have increased in recent decades and scientists suspect that global warming may be behind the phenomenon, and are particularly concerned by the increase in toxic cyanobacteria, which affect human and animal health.

Cyanobacteria are among the most primitive living beings, aged over 3,500 million years old. These aquatic microorganisms helped to oxygenate Earth's atmosphere. At present their populations are increasing in size without stopping. It appears that global warming may be behind the rise in their numbers and may also lead toan increase in the amount of toxins produced by some of these populations.

"Cyanobacteria love warm water, therefore an increase in temperature during this century may stimulate their growth, especially that of the cytotoxic varieties, which could even produce more toxins and become more harmful," says Rehab El-Shehawy, a researcher from IMDEA Agua and co-author of the study published in the journal, Water Research. Her team is working on developing efficient tools to monitor the number of cyanobacteria in water.

Blooms of these microorganisms in lakes, reservoirs and rivers all over the world, and in estuaries and seas, such as the Baltic, are becoming a more and more frequent phenomenon. According to the experts, this poses an economic problem -as it affects water sanitation, shipping and tourism, for example-, and an environmental problem.

In Spain, the relation between the proliferations of toxic cyanobacteria in the Doñana wetlands and the death rate of wild fauna in this natural space has been confirmed, but of even more concern are its effects on human health.

Risk to human health

"These toxins may affect the liver and other organs (hepatotoxins), the nervous system (neurotoxins), different cells (cytotoxins), the eyes and mucous membranes, as well as causing dermatitis and allergies," explains Francisca F. del Campo, another co-author and researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

The scientist demands more attention from the authorities and the general population be given to this health and environmental problem about which little is known and to which little interest is paid.

"We suspect that these cytotoxins may be behind some gastrointestinal disorders and other illnesses, but epidemiological studies are required to confirm this," says Del Campo.

According to studies carried out by the Centre for Studies and Experimentation of Public Works (CEDEX), approximately 20% of Spanish reservoirs (278 were sampled) revealed cyanobacteria in concentrations of more than 2 mm3/l, the guide level established by the WHO for bathing water quality.

In the group exceeding the limits, in 45% of the cases concentrations of microcystins (toxins which particularly affect the liver) were found at above 1 microg/L, which is the value recommended by the WHO and the maximum level established by Spanish legislation for bathing water.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rehab El-Shehawy, Elena Gorokhova, Francisca Fernández-Piñas, Francisca F. del Campo. Global warming and hepatotoxin production by cyanobacteria: What can we learn from experiments? Water Research, 46 (5): 1420-1429, April 2012

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Global warming favors proliferation of toxic cyanobacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703142609.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2012, July 3). Global warming favors proliferation of toxic cyanobacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703142609.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Global warming favors proliferation of toxic cyanobacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703142609.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins