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Toxins (Basel). 2010 Oct;2(10):2359-410. doi: 10.3390/toxins2102359. Epub 2010 Oct 18.

Diversity and impact of prokaryotic toxins on aquatic environments: a review.

Author information

1
Centro de Recursos Microbiológicos (CREM), Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Quinta da Torre, Caparica, Portugal. evalerio@fct.unl.pt

Abstract

Microorganisms are ubiquitous in all habitats and are recognized by their metabolic versatility and ability to produce many bioactive compounds, including toxins. Some of the most common toxins present in water are produced by several cyanobacterial species. As a result, their blooms create major threats to animal and human health, tourism, recreation and aquaculture. Quite a few cyanobacterial toxins have been described, including hepatotoxins, neurotoxins, cytotoxins and dermatotoxins. These toxins are secondary metabolites, presenting a vast diversity of structures and variants. Most of cyanobacterial secondary metabolites are peptides or have peptidic substructures and are assumed to be synthesized by non-ribosomal peptide synthesis (NRPS), involving peptide synthetases, or NRPS/PKS, involving peptide synthetases and polyketide synthases hybrid pathways. Besides cyanobacteria, other bacteria associated with aquatic environments are recognized as significant toxin producers, representing important issues in food safety, public health, and human and animal well being. Vibrio species are one of the most representative groups of aquatic toxin producers, commonly associated with seafood-born infections. Some enterotoxins and hemolysins have been identified as fundamental for V. cholerae and V. vulnificus pathogenesis, but there is evidence for the existence of other potential toxins. Campylobacter spp. and Escherichia coli are also water contaminants and are able to produce important toxins after infecting their hosts. Other bacteria associated with aquatic environments are emerging as toxin producers, namely Legionella pneumophila and Aeromonas hydrophila, described as responsible for the synthesis of several exotoxins, enterotoxins and cytotoxins. Furthermore, several Clostridium species can produce potent neurotoxins. Although not considered aquatic microorganisms, they are ubiquitous in the environment and can easily contaminate drinking and irrigation water. Clostridium members are also spore-forming bacteria and can persist in hostile environmental conditions for long periods of time, contributing to their hazard grade. Similarly, Pseudomonas species are widespread in the environment. Since P. aeruginosa is an emergent opportunistic pathogen, its toxins may represent new hazards for humans and animals. This review presents an overview of the diversity of toxins produced by prokaryotic microorganisms associated with aquatic habitats and their impact on environment, life and health of humans and other animals. Moreover, important issues like the availability of these toxins in the environment, contamination sources and pathways, genes involved in their biosynthesis and molecular mechanisms of some representative toxins are also discussed.

KEYWORDS:

aquatic; diversity of toxins; impact of toxins; molecular mechanisms; prokaryotes

PMID:
22069558
PMCID:
PMC3153167
DOI:
10.3390/toxins2102359
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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