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Freshwater cyanotoxin mixtures in recurring cyanobacterial blooms in Voyageurs National Park

May 12, 2021

Algal and cyanobacterial blooms can foul water systems, inhibit recreation, and produce cyanotoxins, which can be toxic to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. Blooms that recur yearly present a special challenge, in that chronic effects of most cyanotoxins are unknown. To better understand cyanotoxin timing, possible environmental triggers, and inter-relations among taxa and toxins in bloom communities, recurring cyanobacterial blooms were investigated at three recreational sites in Kabetogama Lake in Voyageurs National Park from 2016-2019. Results indicated that peak neurotoxin concentrations occurred before peak microcystin concentrations and that toxin-forming cyanobacteria were present before visible blooms, which is a serious human health concern. Two cyanotoxin mixture models (MIX) and two microcystin (MC) models were developed using near-real-time environmental variables and additional comprehensive variables based on laboratory analyses. Comprehensive models explained more variability than the environmental models and neither MIX model was a better fit than the MC models. However, the MIX models produced no false negatives, indicating that all observations above human-health regulatory guidelines were simulated by the MIX models. The results show that a model based on a cyanotoxin mixture is more protective of human health than a model based on microcystin alone. In 2019, 7 of 19 toxins were detected in various mixtures. The potential toxin producing cyanobacteria, Microcystis, was significantly correlated with microcystin-YR, while Pseudanabaena sp. and Synechococcus sp. were negatively correlated to several toxins. Jaccard and Sorenson indices indicated strong same-day similarities among the three bloom communities. Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria were present at every site, and when combined with internal loading of phosphorus, might explain similarities among sites, and why seasonal differences, even in samples from the same site, were stronger. Information from this dissertation adds to the body of work on recurring blooms and under-studied toxins and toxin mixtures, providing a better understanding of future research options for freshwater cyanotoxins in and outside of Voyageurs National Park.

Publication Year 2021
Title Freshwater cyanotoxin mixtures in recurring cyanobacterial blooms in Voyageurs National Park
Authors Victoria Christensen
Publication Type Thesis
Publication Subtype Thesis
Index ID 70238107
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Water Science Center