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Open AccessArticle

Microcystin Prevalence throughout Lentic Waterbodies in Coastal Southern California

Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, 3535 Harbor Boulevard, Suite 110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, 2375 Northside Drive, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92108, USA
Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 USA
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 3616 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371, USA
German Federal Environmental Agency, Umweltbundesamt, Wörlitzer Platz 1, 06844 Dessau, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Lesley V. D’Anglada and Elizabeth D. Hilborn
Toxins 2017, 9(7), 231;
Received: 8 May 2017 / Revised: 6 July 2017 / Accepted: 13 July 2017 / Published: 22 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Collection Freshwater HABs and Health in a Changing World)
Toxin producing cyanobacterial blooms have increased globally in recent decades in both frequency and intensity. Despite the recognition of this growing risk, the extent and magnitude of cyanobacterial blooms and cyanotoxin prevalence is poorly characterized in the heavily populated region of southern California. Recent assessments of lentic waterbodies (depressional wetlands, lakes, reservoirs and coastal lagoons) determined the prevalence of microcystins and, in some cases, additional cyanotoxins. Microcystins were present in all waterbody types surveyed although toxin concentrations were generally low across most habitats, as only a small number of sites exceeded California’s recreational health thresholds for acute toxicity. Results from passive samplers (Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Tracking (SPATT)) indicated microcystins were prevalent throughout lentic waterbodies and that traditional discrete samples underestimated the presence of microcystins. Multiple cyanotoxins were detected simultaneously in some systems, indicating multiple stressors, the risk of which is uncertain since health thresholds are based on exposures to single toxins. Anatoxin-a was detected for the first time from lakes in southern California. The persistence of detectable microcystins across years and seasons indicates a low-level, chronic risk through both direct and indirect exposure. The influence of toxic cyanobacterial blooms is a more complex stressor than presently recognized and should be included in water quality monitoring programs. View Full-Text
Keywords: cyanotoxins; cyanobacteria; microcystins; cylindrospermopsin; anatoxin-a; California; lakes; estuaries; SPATT cyanotoxins; cyanobacteria; microcystins; cylindrospermopsin; anatoxin-a; California; lakes; estuaries; SPATT
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Howard, M.D.A.; Nagoda, C.; Kudela, R.M.; Hayashi, K.; Tatters, A.; Caron, D.A.; Busse, L.; Brown, J.; Sutula, M.; Stein, E.D. Microcystin Prevalence throughout Lentic Waterbodies in Coastal Southern California. Toxins 2017, 9, 231.

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