Characterization of phytoplankton by pigment analysis and the detection of toxic cyanobacteria in reservoirs with aquaculture production
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The intensified use of water bodies and reservoirs for aquaculture production has increased the need for monitoring and early warning of toxins from cyanobacteria. To minimize effects from toxins, simple and fast analytical monitoring methods are crucial. Here, the content of pigments and microcystins in 14 different strains of cyanobacteria cultured under different growth conditions was investigated to determine the influence of light and nutrient starvation on pigment/ chlorophyll a (chl a) ratios. The obtained pigment/chl a ratios were applied in the software CHEMTAX to calculate the biomass of toxic cyanobacteria, as well as other phytoplankton groups. CHEMTAX ratios from the laboratory cultures were applied to water samples collected during 4 sampling periods at 6 fish farms in different reservoirs in São Paulo State, Brazil. Cyanobacteria generally dominated in all reservoirs in all sampling periods and constituted on average 44 to 66% of the average phytoplankton biomass. The concentrations of microcystins were significantly correlated with the chl a concentrations of cyanobacteria and showed that the pigment method can be used to detect microcystin-producing cyanobacteria in these Brazilian reservoirs. When the concentration of cyanobacteria in the reservoirs was above 4 μg chl a l-1, microcystins were always detected. Our results show that pigment analysis can be used to provide fast and reliable results for the early warning, the presence and potential risk of toxic cyanobacteria in freshwater reservoirs used for aqua culture.