Chitosan as a Coagulant to Remove Cyanobacteria Can Cause Microcystin Release

Maíra Mucci*, Iame A. Guedes, Elisabeth J. Faassen, Miquel Lürling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Chitosan has been tested as a coagulant to remove cyanobacterial nuisance. While its coagulation efficiency is well studied, little is known about its effect on the viability of the cyanobacterial cells. This study aimed to test eight strains of the most frequent bloom-forming cyanobacterium, Microcystis aeruginosa, exposed to a realistic concentration range of chitosan used in lake restoration management (0 to 8 mg chitosan L-1). We found that after 1 h of contact with chitosan, in seven of the eight strains tested, photosystem II efficiency was decreased, and after 24 h, all the strains tested were affected. EC50 values varied from 0.47 to > 8 mg chitosan L-1 between the strains, which might be related to the amount of extracellular polymeric substances. Nucleic acid staining (Sytox-Green®) illustrated the loss of membrane integrity in all the strains tested, and subsequent leakage of pigments was observed, as well as the release of intracellular microcystin. Our results indicate that strain variability hampers generalization about species response to chitosan exposure. Hence, when used as a coagulant to manage cyanobacterial nuisance, chitosan should be first tested on the natural site-specific biota on cyanobacteria removal efficiency, as well as on cell integrity aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020


  • cyanobacteria bloom control
  • lake restoration
  • membrane integrity
  • microcystin
  • Microcystis aeruginosa


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