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Open AccessReview

A Review of the Effect of Trace Metals on Freshwater Cyanobacterial Growth and Toxin Production

Freshwater and Estuarine Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo 2007, Australia
CSIRO Land and Water, Lucas Heights 2234, Australia
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2019, 11(11), 643;
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 1 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 November 2019 / Published: 5 November 2019
Cyanobacterial blooms are becoming more common in freshwater systems, causing ecological degradation and human health risks through exposure to cyanotoxins. The role of phosphorus and nitrogen in cyanobacterial bloom formation is well documented and these are regularly the focus of management plans. There is also strong evidence that trace metals are required for a wide range of cellular processes, however their importance as a limiting factor of cyanobacterial growth in ecological systems is unclear. Furthermore, some studies have suggested a direct link between cyanotoxin production and some trace metals. This review synthesises current knowledge on the following: (1) the biochemical role of trace metals (particularly iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc), (2) the growth limitation of cyanobacteria by trace metals, (3) the trace metal regulation of the phytoplankton community structure and (4) the role of trace metals in cyanotoxin production. Iron dominated the literature and regularly influenced bloom formation, with 15 of 18 studies indicating limitation or colimitation of cyanobacterial growth. A range of other trace metals were found to have a demonstrated capacity to limit cyanobacterial growth, and these metals require further study. The effect of trace metals on cyanotoxin production is equivocal and highly variable. Better understanding the role of trace metals in cyanobacterial growth and bloom formation is an essential component of freshwater management and a direction for future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: cyanobacteria; freshwater; trace metals; blooms; toxin production; growth limitation cyanobacteria; freshwater; trace metals; blooms; toxin production; growth limitation
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Facey, J.A.; Apte, S.C.; Mitrovic, S.M. A Review of the Effect of Trace Metals on Freshwater Cyanobacterial Growth and Toxin Production. Toxins 2019, 11, 643.

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