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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Cyanotoxin Occurrence and Diversity in 98 Cyanobacterial Blooms from Swedish Lakes and the Baltic Sea

Dirks, Caroline; Cappelli, Paolo; Blomqvist, Maria; Ekroth, Susanne; Johansson, Malin; Persson, Max; Drakare, Stina; Pekar, Heidi; Zuberovic Muratovic, Aida


The Drinking Water Directive (EU) 2020/2184 includes the parameter microcystin LR, a cyanotoxin, which drinking water producers need to analyze if the water source has potential for cyanobacterial blooms. In light of the increasing occurrences of cyanobacterial blooms worldwide and given that more than 50 percent of the drinking water in Sweden is produced from surface water, both fresh and brackish, the need for improved knowledge about cyanotoxin occurrence and cyanobacterial diversity has increased. In this study, a total of 98 cyanobacterial blooms were sampled in 2016-2017 and identified based on their toxin production and taxonomical compositions. The surface water samples from freshwater lakes throughout Sweden including brackish water from eight east coast locations along the Baltic Sea were analyzed for their toxin content with LC-MS/MS and taxonomic composition with 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Both the extracellular and the total toxin content were analyzed. Microcystin's prevalence was highest with presence in 82% of blooms, of which as a free toxin in 39% of blooms. Saxitoxins were found in 36% of blooms in which the congener decarbamoylsaxitoxin (dcSTX) was detected for the first time in Swedish surface waters at four sampling sites. Anatoxins were most rarely detected, followed by cylindrospermopsin, which were found in 6% and 10% of samples, respectively. As expected, nodularin was detected in samples collected from the Baltic Sea only. The cyanobacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) with the highest abundance and prevalence could be annotated to Aphanizomenon NIES-81 and the second most profuse cyanobacterial taxon to Microcystis PCC 7914. In addition, two correlations were found, one between Aphanizomenon NIES-81 and saxitoxins and another between Microcystis PCC 7914 and microcystins. This study is of value to drinking water management and scientists involved in recognizing and controlling toxic cyanobacteria blooms.


cyanotoxins; cyanobacteria; blooms; analysis; survey; LC-MS/MS

Published in

Marine Drugs
2024, Volume: 22, number: 5, article number: 199
Publisher: MDPI

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

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