Facey, JA, Steele, JR, Violi, JP, Mitrovic, SM & Cranfield, C 2019, 'An examination of microcystin-LR accumulation and toxicity using tethered bilayer lipid membranes (tBLMs).', Toxicon, vol. 158, pp. 51-56.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Microcystin-LR (MC-LR) is a potent cyanobacterial toxin responsible for animal and human poisonings worldwide. MC-LR is found in organisms throughout the foodweb, however there is conjecture regarding whether it biomagnifies. Few studies have investigated how MC-LR interacts with lipid membranes, a determinant of biomagnification potential. We tested whether 1 μM MC-LR irreversibly associates with lipid bilayers or causes the creation of pore defects upon short and long-term exposure. Using tethered bilayer lipid membranes (tBLMs), we observed an increase in membrane conduction in tBLMs, representing an interaction of microcystin-LR with the lipid bilayer and a change in membrane packing properties. However, there were minimal changes in membrane capacitance upon short and long-term exposure, and MC-LR exhibited a rapid off-rate. Upon 24 h exposure to the toxin, no lipophilic multimeric complexes were detected capable of altering the toxin's off-rate. There was no evidence of the creation of new pores. This study demonstrates that MC-LR does not irreversibly imbed itself into lipids membranes after short or long-term exposure and suggests MC-LR does not biomagnify through the food web via lipid storage.
Facey, JA, Apte, SC & Mitrovic, SM 2019, 'A Review of the Effect of Trace Metals on Freshwater Cyanobacterial Growth and Toxin Production.', Toxins, vol. 11, no. 11.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Cyanobacterial blooms are becoming more common in freshwater systems, causing ecological degradation and human health risks through exposure to cyanotoxins. The role of phosphorus and nitrogen in cyanobacterial bloom formation is well documented and these are regularly the focus of management plans. There is also strong evidence that trace metals are required for a wide range of cellular processes, however their importance as a limiting factor of cyanobacterial growth in ecological systems is unclear. Furthermore, some studies have suggested a direct link between cyanotoxin production and some trace metals. This review synthesises current knowledge on the following: (1) the biochemical role of trace metals (particularly iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc), (2) the growth limitation of cyanobacteria by trace metals, (3) the trace metal regulation of the phytoplankton community structure and (4) the role of trace metals in cyanotoxin production. Iron dominated the literature and regularly influenced bloom formation, with 15 of 18 studies indicating limitation or colimitation of cyanobacterial growth. A range of other trace metals were found to have a demonstrated capacity to limit cyanobacterial growth, and these metals require further study. The effect of trace metals on cyanotoxin production is equivocal and highly variable. Better understanding the role of trace metals in cyanobacterial growth and bloom formation is an essential component of freshwater management and a direction for future research.
Violi, JP, Facey, JA, Mitrovic, SM, Colville, A & Rodgers, KJ 2019, 'Production of β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) and Its Isomers by Freshwater Diatoms.', Toxins, vol. 11, no. 9.View/Download from: Publisher's site
β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is a non-protein amino acid that has been implicated as a risk factor for motor neurone disease (MND). BMAA is produced by a wide range of cyanobacteria globally and by a small number of marine diatoms. BMAA is commonly found with two of its constitutional isomers: 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (2,4-DAB), and N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (AEG). The isomer 2,4-DAB, like BMAA, has neurotoxic properties. While many studies have shown BMAA production by cyanobacteria, few studies have looked at other algal groups. Several studies have shown BMAA production by marine diatoms; however, there are no studies examining freshwater diatoms. This study aimed to determine if some freshwater diatoms produced BMAA, and which diatom taxa are capable of BMAA, 2,4-DAB and AEG production. Five axenic diatom cultures were established from river and lake sites across eastern Australia. Cultures were harvested during the stationary growth phase and intracellular amino acids were extracted. Using liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), diatom extracts were analysed for the presence of both free and protein-associated BMAA, 2,4-DAB and AEG. Of the five diatom cultures analysed, four were found to have detectable BMAA and AEG, while 2,4-DAB was found in all cultures. These results show that BMAA production by diatoms is not confined to marine genera and that the prevalence of these non-protein amino acids in Australian freshwater environments cannot be solely attributed to cyanobacteria.