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Nat Toxins. 1992;1(1):48-53.

Release of heptapeptide toxin (microcystin) during the decomposition process of Microcystis aeruginosa.

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Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, Japan.


The decomposition process of toxic blue-green alga (cyanobacteria), Microcystis aeruginosa, under dark and aerobic condition was investigated in relation to the change of the amounts of heptapeptide toxins (microcystins YR and LR) by two experiments: one with Microcystis cells and the other with two purified microcystins. In the experiment with Microcystis cells, an increase of heterotrophic bacteria observed from the beginning of the experiment, was followed by decomposition of the algal cells and the subsequent release of microcystins into the filtrate fraction. The amounts of the toxins initially present in the cells were quantitatively detected in the filtrate fraction on the 35th day. The decomposition of microcystin YR began on the 42nd day. The decomposition rate of the two toxins was different. The decomposition rate of purified microcystins YR and LR, compared in distilled water and culture medium, respectively, indicated clearly that microcystin YR was more labile to decomposition than microcystin LR in the culture medium. At the end of the experiment (45th day) microcystin YR decreased to 58.6%, while 86.2% of microcystin LR remained.

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