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Are We Underestimating Benthic Cyanotoxins? Extensive Sampling Results from Spain

Unidad Multidisciplinaria de Docencia e Investigación (UMDI), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Juriquilla, C.P. Querétaro 76230, Mexico
Departamento de Biología Aplicada (Botánica), Facultad de Ciencias Experimentales, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Campus de Elche, E-03202 Alicante, Spain
Laboratorio de Algología, Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Murcia, Campus de Espinardo, E-30100 Murcia, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Luis M. Botana
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 385;
Received: 29 August 2017 / Revised: 22 November 2017 / Accepted: 23 November 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from the 5th Iberoamerican Cyanotoxins Meeting)
PDF [2417 KB, uploaded 28 November 2017]


Microcystins (MCs) are potent hepatotoxins, and their presence in water bodies poses a threat to wildlife and human populations. Most of the available information refers to plankton, and much less is known about microcystins in other habitats. To broaden our understanding of the presence and environmental distribution of this group of toxins, we conducted extensive sampling throughout Spain, under a range of conditions and in distinct aquatic and terrestrial habitats. More than half of the tested strains were toxic; concentrations of the hepatotoxin were low compared with planktic communities, and the number of toxic variants identified in each sample of the Spanish strains ranged from 1–3. The presence of microcystins LF and LY (MC-LF and MC-LY) in the tested samples was significant, and ranged from 21.4% to 100% of the total microcystins per strain. These strains were only detected in cyanobacteria Oscillatoriales and Nostocales. We can report, for the first time, seven new species of microcystin producers in high mountain rivers and chasmoendolithic communities. This is the first report of these species in Geitlerinema and the confirmation of Anatoxin-a in Phormidium uncinatum. Our findings show that microcystins are widespread in all habitat types, including both aerophytic and endolithic peat bogs and that it is necessary to identify all the variants of microcystins in aquatic bodies as the commonest toxins sometimes represent a very low proportion of the total. View Full-Text
Keywords: Anatoxin-a; aquatic and aerophytic habitats; cyanobacteria; microcystins; MC-LF; MC-LR; MC-LY; MC-RR; MC-YR; Spain Anatoxin-a; aquatic and aerophytic habitats; cyanobacteria; microcystins; MC-LF; MC-LR; MC-LY; MC-RR; MC-YR; Spain

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Cantoral Uriza, E.A.; Asencio, A.D.; Aboal, M. Are We Underestimating Benthic Cyanotoxins? Extensive Sampling Results from Spain. Toxins 2017, 9, 385.

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