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Mar Drugs. 2010 May 10;8(5):1650-80. doi: 10.3390/md8051650.

On the chemistry, toxicology and genetics of the cyanobacterial toxins, microcystin, nodularin, saxitoxin and cylindrospermopsin.

Author information

  • 1School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia. leanne.pearson@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

The cyanobacteria or "blue-green algae", as they are commonly termed, comprise a diverse group of oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria that inhabit a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial environments, and display incredible morphological diversity. Many aquatic, bloom-forming species of cyanobacteria are capable of producing biologically active secondary metabolites, which are highly toxic to humans and other animals. From a toxicological viewpoint, the cyanotoxins span four major classes: the neurotoxins, hepatotoxins, cytotoxins, and dermatoxins (irritant toxins). However, structurally they are quite diverse. Over the past decade, the biosynthesis pathways of the four major cyanotoxins: microcystin, nodularin, saxitoxin and cylindrospermopsin, have been genetically and biochemically elucidated. This review provides an overview of these biosynthesis pathways and additionally summarizes the chemistry and toxicology of these remarkable secondary metabolites.

KEYWORDS:

alkaloid, cyanotoxin, non-ribosomal peptide, polyketide, toxicology

PMID:
20559491
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2885083
Free PMC Article

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