Home > Explore Data & Reports > The Fate of Microcystins in the Environment and Challenges for Monitoring

Citation:

Schmidt, J.R., S.W. Wilhelm, and G.L. Boyer. 2014. The Fate of Microcystins in the Environment and Challenges for Monitoring. Toxins, 6(12):3354-3387. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins6123354

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Description

Microcystins are secondary metabolites produced by cyanobacteria that act as hepatotoxins in higher organisms. These toxins can be altered through abiotic processes, such as photodegradation and adsorption, as well as through biological processes via metabolism and bacterial degradation. Some species of bacteria can degrade microcystins, and many other organisms metabolize microcystins into a series of conjugated products. There are toxicokinetic models used to examine microcystin uptake and elimination, which can be difficult to compare due to differences in compartmentalization and speciation. Metabolites of microcystins are formed as a detoxification mechanism, and little is known about how quickly these metabolites are formed. In summary, microcystins can undergo abiotic and biotic processes that alter the toxicity and structure of the microcystin molecule. The environmental impact and toxicity of these alterations and the metabolism of microcystins remains uncertain, making it difficult to establish guidelines for human health. Here, we present the current state of knowledge regarding the alterations microcystins can undergo in the environment.

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