Assessment of Common Cyanotoxins in Cyanobacteria of Biological Loess Crusts

Tamara Dulić*, Zorica Svirčev, Tamara Palanački Malešević, Elisabeth J. Faassen, Henna Savela, Qingzhen Hao, Jussi Meriluoto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Cyanotoxins are a diverse group of bioactive compounds produced by cyanobacteria that have adverse effects on human and animal health. While the phenomenon of cyanotoxin production in aquatic environments is well studied, research on cyanotoxins in terrestrial environments, where cyanobacteria abundantly occur in biocrusts, is still in its infancy. Here, we investigated the potential cyanotoxin production in cyanobacteria-dominated biological loess crusts (BLCs) from three different regions (China, Iran, and Serbia) and in cyanobacterial cultures isolated from the BLCs. The presence of cyanotoxins microcystins, cylindrospermopsin, saxitoxins, and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine was analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method, while the presence of cyanotoxin-encoding genes (mcyE, cyrJ, sxtA, sxtG, sxtS, and anaC) was investigated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. We could not detect any of the targeted cyanotoxins in the biocrusts or the cyanobacterial cultures, nor could we amplify any cyanotoxin-encoding genes in the cyanobacterial strains. The results are discussed in terms of the biological role of cyanotoxins, the application of cyanobacteria in land restoration programs, and the use of cyanotoxins as biosignatures of cyanobacterial populations in loess research. The article highlights the need to extend the field of research on cyanobacteria and cyanotoxin production to terrestrial environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number215
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022


  • biocrusts
  • cyanotoxins
  • land restoration
  • loess
  • sedimentary biosignatures
  • terrestrial cyanobacteria


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