Special Issue “Selected Papers from the 11th International Conference on Toxic Cyanobacteria” – Toxins

Dear Colleagues,

The International Conference on Toxic Cyanobacteria is a periodic summit of an international community focusing on the study of cyanotoxins and toxic cyanobacteria. The next ICTC 11 will be held in Kraków, Poland, 5–10 May, 2019.

The Local Organizing Committee agreed with Toxins to call for a Special Issue related to the research presented during ICTC 11. The submitted articles should contain recent and most important findings discussed during the conference including: the occurrence of toxic/invasive cyanobacteria in the context of climate changes; ecology of cyanobacteria with special emphasis on abiotic and biotic factors which regulate their growth and/or toxin production; physiological function, environmental significance and biotechnological application of secondary cyanometabolites; physiology and molecular biology of cyanobacteria; toxicity and harmful effects; risk identification and water management.

Link to the special issue: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/toxins/special_issues/Conference_Toxic_Cyanobacteria

Additional links to the conference which you may find useful: http://ictc11.org/special-issues/

On behalf of the Local Organizing Committee

Dr. Dariusz Dziga
Guest Editor

SETAC Europe 2020 Session: Marine and Freshwater Pelagic and Benthic Harmful Algal Blooms

SETAC Europe 30th Annual meeting will take place on 3-7 May 2020 in Dublin, Ireland.

A Session on “Marine and Freshwater Pelagic and Benthic Harmful Algal Blooms: Toxins Production, Detection, Fate, Effects, Monitoring and Management” (Co-chairs Triantafyllos Kaloudis, James Lazorchack) is scheduled under “Track 6”. 

You can submit your abstracts by 27 November 2019.

Link to the session (Track 6).


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in freshwater and marine systems are defined as an assemblage of eukaryotic or prokaryotic plankton which have the potential to cause negative health, ecological or economic impacts. These negative impacts are caused by mechanisms that include, but are not limited to, public health and environmental risks from toxin(s) production, light attenuation, diurnal swings in pH and dissolved oxygen, offensive tastes and odors, and impaired visual aesthetics. Examples of some of the major toxins found in various combinations are: (a) prokaryotes (cyanobacteria) – microcystins, cylindrospermopsins, anatoxins, nodularin and saxitoxins; and (b) eukaryotes (dinoflagellates, diatoms, chrysophytes and raphidophytes) euglenophysins, prymensins, brevetoxins, ciguatoxins, saxitoxins and domoic acid. In recent years, there has been new information about the potential threat of benthic (attached and/or buried) toxin-producing cyanobacteria and algae. However, there are still many uncertainties about planktonic and benthic cyanobacteria/algae and the nature of their benthic/pelagic life stages. There is also some uncertainty concerning whether there is a greater risk to aquatic life due to the effects of filamentous and matt forming toxin and non-toxin producing algae on feeding inhibition and smothering. What are the current knowledge gaps related to blooms of benthic cyanobacteria/algae on substrates (attached) and/or in sediment (buried)? What research is required to address these gaps? Do we have enough knowledge to develop mitigation plans and predictive models? What tools are available to track and monitor benthic cyanobacteria/algae and their associated toxins in freshwater and marine environments, and are these fit for purpose? What information do we need to make informed risk assessments and are our current tools/techniques sufficient? How should we best incorporate ‘omics techniques into benthic cyanobacterial/algal research? What are the risks of filamentous of matt forming cyanobacteria and algae? What are the current regulations available to address both benthic and pelagic HABS and what are the current difficulties in managing the conditions that contribute to toxin production? To help address these questions, the objective of this session is to exchange information on the distribution, detection, identification, , occurrence and interaction of both benthic and planktonic cyanobacteria and algae and their associated toxins and finally management tools or approaches to reduce occurrence of blooms.


Special Issue “Harmful Cyanobacteria and Their Metabolites” – Applied Sciences

Dear Colleagues,

The ongoing eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems has increased cyanobacterial blooms and also intensified the problems caused by the blooms. Harmful cyanobacteria and their toxic metabolites are known to cause health concerns in humans, animals, and plants, and water-users continue to experience cyanobacterial hazards and nuisance in Europe and other parts of the world as evidenced by some recent events.

The Special Issue “Harmful Cyanobacteria and Their Metabolites” in the journal Applied Sciences has a wide scope and it is intended to address some of the gaps in our knowledge concerning the management of cyanobacterial problems. It deals with, e.g., the occurrence of harmful cyanobacteria, methods for the analysis of noxious cyanometabolites, fate/impact/health effects of cyanotoxins, as well as management measures related to harmful cyanobacteria.

Some examples of work relevant for the Special Issue includes manuscripts on toxic invasive cyanobacteria; occurrence of toxic cyanobacteria in less-studied environments; cyanobacterial adaptations to climate change especially in relation to toxin production; cyanobacterial production of taste and odor compounds; management of harmful cyanobacteria in protected ecosystems; exposure assessment and effects of cyanotoxins in aquatic and terrestrial organisms including humans; novel methods for monitoring and analysis of cyanotoxins; prevention and control measures for the elimination of cyanobacterial problems. Review papers promoting international initiatives for the management of cyanobacterial problems may also be considered if presented with a strong scientific rationale but the potential authors of such papers are encouraged to contact the Guest Editors in advance.

Dr. Jussi Meriluoto
Dr. Nada Tokodi
Guest Editors

Link to the webpage of the Issue.

Download the flyer of the Issue.

First study to show that microginins are genotoxic

Abstract from a paper by Ujvarosi et al. (2019), published in Chemospere :

Microginins (MGs) are bioactive metabolites mainly produced by Microcystis spp., (Cyanobacteria) commonly found in eutrophic environments. In this study, the cytotoxic and genotoxic activities of four MG congeners (MG FR3, MG GH787, cyanostatin B, MGL 402) and a well characterized cyanobacterial extract B-14-01 containing these metabolites were evaluated in the human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cell line. The cytotoxicity was measured with the MTT assay, while genotoxicity was studied with the comet, γH2AX and cytokinesis block (CBMN) micronucleus assays. The viability of cells after 24 h was significantly affected only by the extract, whereas after 72 h a concentration dependent decrease in cell proliferation was observed for the extract and tested microginins, with MGL 402 being the most potent and MG FR3 the least potent congener. The extract and all tested congeners induced DNA strand breaks after 4 and 24 h exposure. The most potent was the extract, which induced concentration and time dependent increase in DNA damage at concentrations ≥0.01 μg mL−1. Among microginins the most potent was MGL 402 (increase in DNA strand breaks at ≥ 0.01 μg mL−1) and MG FR3 was the least potent (increase in DNA strand breaks at ≥ 1 μg mL−1). However, no induction of DNA double strand breaks was observed after 24 and 72-h exposure to the cyanobacterial extract or MGs. Induction of genomic instability was observed in cells exposed to MG GH787, cyanostatin B and the extract B-14-01. This study is the first to provide the evidence that microginins exert genotoxic activity.

The paper is a product of joined research by groups in Slovenia and Hungary and features CYANOCOST members Bojana Zegura, Gabor Vasas, Klara Hercog, Metka Filipic. The authors acknowledge CYANOCOST.


Andrea Zsuzsanna Ujvárosi, Klara Hercog, Milán Riba, Sándor Gonda, Metka Filipič, Gábor Vasas, Bojana Žegura (2019). “The cyanobacterial oligopeptides microginins induce DNA damage in the human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cell line”, Chemosphere, Volume 240,  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124880.


Exciting PhD position at the Research Department for Limnology, Mondsee, Austria

Harmful algal blooms formed by cyanobacteria (cyanoHABs) not only deteriorate ecosystem services but cause significant economic losses because of managing and treating drinking water and food supplies. Among those toxins, most prominent are the microcystins (and related peptides), i.e. by inhibiting eukaryotic protein phosphatases 1 and 2A of higher organisms. Intracellular toxic peptides can be released into the surrounding environment either through cell lysis or through active transport out of the cell.
One possibility to investigate cyanotoxins on the individual cell level is the so-called bioorthogonal labeling. In vivo labeling of cyanotoxins/peptides is based on the discovery of unspecific key enzymes involved in the synthesis pathway of those compounds which also can use non-natural functional groups as precursors. The resulting modified molecule is subsequently labeled by a fluorophore through a so-called click chemistry reaction. We will perform cyanotoxin/peptide labeling and high resolution imaging to localize, quantify and reveal inter/intracellular peptide storage and release using various isolates varying substantially in intra- and extracellular toxic peptide content (0-60% of the total content).
The tasks of this position will include (i) the integration of the data on cyanotoxin/peptide localization, and labeling of metabolites, (ii) experiments on strain-specific variation and stress-induced variation. The PhD candidate will be responsible for collecting the data on peptide localization using high resolution microscopy and further analysis using advanced imaging software, as well as to analyze the strain-specific and stress induced variation under controlled laboratory conditions.

Download the full call (pdf).

Further Information: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rainer Kurmayer
Research Department for Limnology Mondsee, University of Innsbruck, Austria
email: rainer.kurmayer@uibk.ac.at
For application please send a motivation letter together with a CV (in English) until 15 September 2019.



New marine cyanobacteria species found by Cyanolab in Aegean sea

A new paper by Konstantinou et al. from Cyanolab AUTH (Head: Dr. Spyros Gkelis), published in Journal of Phycology. The authors propose a novel marine genus Leptothoe gen. nov. and describe three new sponge-associated species:  Le. sithoniana, Le. kymatousa, and Le.  spongobia, based on a combination of molecular, chemical and morphological approach. The new sponge-associated Leptothoe species show distinct characters compared to other marine Leptolyngbyaceae, reinforcing the investigation of cyanobacterial diversity associated with sponges. Interestingly, Leptothoe spongobia TAU-MAC 1115 isolated from the sponge Acanthella acuta was shown to produce microcystin-RR indicating that microcystin production among marine cyanobacteria could be more widespread than previously determined.


Konstantinou, D., Voultsiadou, E., Panteris, E., Zervou, S. K., Hiskia, A., & Gkelis, S. (2019). Leptothoe, a new genus of marine cyanobacteria (Synechococcales) and three new species associated with sponges from the Aegean Sea. Journal of phycology.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jpy.12866


ProSynFest 2020 – A conference devoted to marine cyanobacteria – Cordoba, March 2020.

We are pleased to announce ProSynFest2o20 (March 18-21, 2020 in Cordoba, Spain), a conference almost entirely devoted to the marine picocyanobacteria Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus. It starts with an (optional) one-day technical workshop on March 18th. The conference itself lasts 3 days and will gather most world specialists of marine picocyanobacteria.
The conference program is available here: www.prosynfest2020.com/

Yours sincerely,
Dr. F. Partensky, member of the organizing committee

CYANOBOX project – Request for feedback (5min survey)

CYanoBox (ENTERPRISES / 0618/0157) is a 2-year project that aims to develop an autonomous, affordable (cost-effective), easy-to-use, and reliable tool for monitoring cyanobacterial contaminated surface waterbodies. Such a tool will be extremely helpful to local and competent authorities to minimize exposure to the toxic compounds released by the blooms. The Cyprus Research Innovation Centre (Cy-RIC) and the Water Treatment Laboratory-AQUA of the Cyprus University of Technology have partnered for the completion of this project.

I would like to ask you to spend 5 minutes and complete the survey (link and password provided below). This will help us immensely with the system requirements.

Please feel free to share to anyone third party (including water companies and competent authorities). https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/CYANOBOX2019


Thank you so much!

Maria G. Antoniou (Ph.D.), Assistant Professor, Cyprus University of Technology, Water Treatment Laboratory-Aqua

Special Issue”Recent Developments in LC-MS of Algal Toxins: Present and Future Challenges”- Toxins

The combination of liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is a valuable tool for the determination of algal toxins contained at trace levels in complex matrices thanks to its high sensitivity, selectivity and ability to deal with the structural diversity and labile nature of the toxins. Targeted LC tandem MS (LC-MS/MS) approaches are already efficiently employed worldwide to monitor toxin distribution in the environment and in the food chain. At the same time, untargeted approaches based on  high resolution MS (LC-HRMS) have generally disclosed the presence of a much higher number and types of toxins and made straightforward elucidation of the gross structure of the unknowns based on the interpretation of their fragmentation patterns.

In view of the plethora of LC-MS/MS and LC-HRMS methods that have been developed so far, the need exists for critical reviews that, besides summarizing the methodologies for determination of each toxin-group, single out the main challenges to be addressed in the next future for marine, freshwater and fish-killing toxins. Collaborative efforts among scientists are strongly encouraged both in the field of the regulated toxins in EU and the emerging ones to build the rational basis for inter-laboratory validation trials, where needed. Original research articles reporting LC-MS based identification of emerging issues for water and food safety potentially associated with climate change as well as recent advancements in LC-MS data acquisition and treatment (On-line SPE-LC-MS, 2D-LC-MS, Metabolomics, among others) will be also included in this Special Issue.

More information can be found at: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/toxins/special_issues/lcms_Algal

Deadline for manuscript submissions is 31 December 2019

Guest Editors: Carmela Dell’Aversano and Luciana Tartaglione, Department of Pharmacy, University of Napoli Federico II


Special Issue “Biological Role of Cyanotoxins: Experimental and In-Field Evidence” -Toxins

Dear Colleagues,

Cyanobacteria are an ancient lineage of oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria found in a broad range of habitats, from soil to oceans, where they play important roles in the global nitrogen and carbon cycles. They are known for the toxic blooms they form in fresh water bodies around the world and the production of toxins, posing a threat to human and environmental health. Despite the tremendous effort to understand the biosynthesis, toxicity, and occurrence of cyanobacteria secondary metabolites, the biological role of these compounds still remains relatively unknown.  Various hypotheses in this regard have been put forward, encompassing both intracellular effects such as nutrient storage, light adaptation, and protection against oxidative stress, and extracellular functions including quorum sensing, allelopathic interactions, nutrient acquisition, colony formation, and grazing defense. The existing evidence on the potential role of cyanotoxins is mostly based on experimental studies and require further confirmation by in-field observations.

This Special Issue is destined to gather reviews, original experimental papers, and short notes reporting findings on experimental and in-field observations that aim to advance our understanding of the biological role of cyanotoxins.

Dr. Spyros Gkelis
Dr. Piotr Rzymski
Guest Editors

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019

Special issue webpage.