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Appl Environ Microbiol. Nov 1985; 50(5): 1292–1295.
PMCID: PMC238741

Severe hepatotoxicity caused by the tropical cyanobacterium (blue-green alga) Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii (Woloszynska) Seenaya and Subba Raju isolated from a domestic water supply reservoir.


Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, a tropical blooming species of cyanobacterium (blue-green alga), was isolated from the domestic water supply reservoir on Palm Island, a continental island off the tropical northeast coast of Australia. This species, not previously known to be toxic, was shown to be severely hepatotoxic for mice. The 50% lethal dose at 24 h after injection was found to be 64 +/- 5 mg of freeze-dried culture per kg of mouse. The principal lesion produced was centrilobular to massive hepatocyte necrosis, but various degrees of injury were also seen in the kidneys, adrenal glands, lungs, and intestine. The possible implication of this finding in relation to an incident of hepatoenteritis in humans living on the island is discussed.

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Selected References

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  • Bourke AT, Hawes RB. Freshwater cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and human health. Med J Aust. 1983 May 28;1(11):491–492. [PubMed]
  • Byth S. Palm Island mystery disease. Med J Aust. 1980 Jul 12;2(1):40–42. [PubMed]
  • Falconer IR, Beresford AM, Runnegar MT. Evidence of liver damage by toxin from a bloom of the blue-green alga, Microcystis aeruginosa. Med J Aust. 1983 May 28;1(11):511–514. [PubMed]
  • Jackson AR, McInnes A, Falconer IR, Runnegar MT. Clinical and pathological changes in sheep experimentally poisoned by the blue-green alga Microcystis aeruginosa. Vet Pathol. 1984 Jan;21(1):102–113. [PubMed]
  • Stanier RY, Kunisawa R, Mandel M, Cohen-Bazire G. Purification and properties of unicellular blue-green algae (order Chroococcales). Bacteriol Rev. 1971 Jun;35(2):171–205. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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