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Environmental conditions associating microcystins production to Microcystis aeruginosa in a reservoir of Thailand.

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Environmental Toxicology, Technology and Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Pathum Thani, Thailand.


Three heptapeptide toxins, microcystin-RR, microcystin-RY and microcystin-LR, which can cause health problems in animals and humans were monitored in Bang Phra Reservoir, Thailand using reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography. The concentrations of the three toxins in the reservoir varied greatly depending on location and time water samples were collected. Water quality parameters such as light intensity, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, suspended solid, chemical oxygen demand, dissolved organic carbon, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, ammonia, nitrate, phosphate, total dissolved nitrogen, total dissolved phosphorus and chlorophyll-a were also measured in parallel with microcystin determinations. Relationships among water quality parameters, toxins and chlorophyll-a were established. Toxin concentration increased in proportion to increases in total phosphorus, fraction of dissolved phosphorus, but was inversely correlated with water pH and total suspended solids. The other measured parameters in the study showed no correlations to toxin level in reservoir water. Significant correlations between chlorophyll-a and suspended solids, phosphate, nitrate and ammonia were observed suggesting that nitrogen and phosphorus are the two major nutrients governing growth of algae in the reservoir. This relationship suggests that algal production as well as toxin concentration are dependant on nutrient levels in the water body, since both measured light intensity and temperature level was favorable for algal growth. A small algal bloom observed in the rainy season of each year (lasting for only a couple of months) paralleled measured increases in toxin concentration, chlorophyll-a, TP and TN in the water column. Toxin level in the water column remain detectable for 3-4 months period following the initiation of algal bloom. Results indicate that major blooms are likely to occur following the raining season which usually occurs near the end of October when runoff would increase nutrient level entering the reservoir. This study also demonstrated that an ongoing field-monitoring program is needed in these lakes and reservoirs for predicting toxic level of microcystin production for use in risk assessment and for alerting the public to potential health hazards. Concentration of toxin in the reservoir can perhaps be controlled by reducing non point source nutrient input within the watershed.

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