Home > Benthic Cyanobacteria: An aesthetic and toxic risk to be evaluated

Benthic Cyanobacteria: An aesthetic and toxic risk to be evaluated

Project Number # 1110

Benthic Cyanobacteria: An aesthetic and toxic risk to be evaluated

Status:  In Progress

Project Leader:  Justin Brookes, Virginie Gaget

While management of the risks from pelagic cyanobacteria are well established, there are no protocols for management of risk caused by benthic cyanobacteria. Recent research supported by an ARC-linkage grant has shown that benthic cyanobacteria are potentially a major source of taste and odour compounds, and toxins in Australian drinking water reservoirs.

The risk represented by the production of toxin by benthic cyanobacteria is poorly understood in drinking water supplies. The risk of exposure to benthic algal toxins is accentuated in recreational and recycled water. Nevertheless, while conventional treatment plants would remove most of the toxins, multiple barriers are still required and Powered Activated Carbon (PAC) would need to be used. Without a reliable monitoring regime for benthic cyanobacteria this safety precaution cannot be initiated. The case of CYN is particularly pertinent  because 50% of the toxin is found outside of the cells, even in healthy populations, and it is therefore not removed during coagulation.

This project will aim to evaluate the actual risk that toxigenic benthic algae represent in water sources by establish knowledge on the rate of toxin production, dispersion and fate through the water source and treatment facilities. Complementary to this, taste and odour compounds and candidate genes will also be monitored. It is anticipated that the processes by which the T&O compounds are transported to the surface waters are similar to how toxins are transported.