A rapid microbiotest for the detection of cyanobacterial toxins

Andrea Törökné, Rita Vasdinnyei, B. Mária Asztalos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Cyanobacteria occur widely in lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and slow flowing rivers. Many species are known to produce toxins (cyanotoxins), a number of which are of concern for health. Cyanotoxins vary in chemical structure and may be found intracellular or released into water. There is not only a wide variation in the toxicity of known cyanotoxins but a substantial number of toxins have to date not been identified chemically. Chemical analysis of cyanotoxins is nowadays not used for routine monitoring because it is time consuming, it requires specialized equipment and expertise, and is hence expensive. There is hence an urgent need for rapid tests in surface waters to detect cyanobacterial toxins because of the need for safe drinking water and safe natural bathing waters, which may be burdened by cyanobacterial blooms or scums. Previous investigations have already shown that larvae of the anostracan crustacean Thamnocephalus platyurus are quite sensitive to neurotoxic and hepatotoxic cyanotoxins. The present paper reports on the sensitivity comparison of the (1 h) Rapidtoxkit (based on a sublethal endpoint) and the (24 h) Thamnotoxkit microbiotest (based on mortality). Both assays make use of larvae of T. platyurus. The Rapidtoxkit is a new microbiotest that determines the decrease of ingestion of colored particles by the crustacean larvae, which are stressed by a short exposure to toxicants. Fifteen cyanobacterial samples composed of laboratory strains and natural bloom samples were tested by both microbiotests. All samples were also analyzed concurrently by HPLC for microcystins and cylindrospermopsin. The correlation coefficient between the two microbiotests (r = 0.82) showed the very good correspondence between the sublethal and the lethal effects. No known toxins could be detected in some samples, although the latter were found highly toxic to the test organisms in both bioassays. These results point to the presence of unknown toxin(s) produced by some cyanobacteria such as e.g., the Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii strain isolated from Lake Balaton in Hungary. This comparative study clearly showed that the 1 h Rapidtoxkit is an attractive rapid alternative to the Thamnotoxkit microbiotest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2007


  • Cyanobacterial toxins
  • Cylindrospermopsin
  • Microbiotests
  • Microcystins
  • Rapidtoxkit
  • Thamnocephalus platyurus
  • Toxkits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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