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A review on aquatic toxins - Do we really know it all regarding the environmental risk posed by phytoplankton neurotoxins?
Pinto, A.; Botelho, M.J.; Churro, C.; Asselman, J.; Pereira, P.; Pereira, J.L. (2023). A review on aquatic toxins - Do we really know it all regarding the environmental risk posed by phytoplankton neurotoxins? J. Environ. Manage. 345: 118769.
In: Journal of Environmental Management. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0301-4797; e-ISSN 1095-8630, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Cyanobacteria [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Harmful algal blooms; Toxic cyanobacteria; Cyanotoxins; Marine algal toxins; Neurotoxins; Human and environmental health

Authors  Top 
  • Pinto, A.
  • Botelho, M.J.
  • Churro, C.
  • Asselman, J., more
  • Pereira, P.

    Aquatic toxins are potent natural toxins produced by certain cyanobacteria and marine algae species during harmful cyanobacterial and algal blooms (CyanoHABs and HABs, respectively). These harmful bloom events and the toxins produced during these events are a human and environmental health concern worldwide, with occurrence, frequency and severity of CyanoHABs and HABs being predicted to keep increasing due to ongoing climate change scenarios. These contexts, as well as human health consequences of some toxins produced during bloom events have been thoroughly reviewed before. Conversely, the wider picture that includes the non-human biota in the assessment of noxious effects of toxins is much less covered in the literature and barely covered by review works. Despite direct human exposure to aquatic toxins and related deleterious effects being responsible for the majority of the public attention to the blooms' problematic, it constitutes a very limited fraction of the real environmental risk posed by these toxins. The disruption of ecological and trophic interactions caused by these toxins in the aquatic biota building on deleterious effects they may induce in different species is paramount as a modulator of the overall magnitude of the environmental risk potentially involved, thus necessarily constraining the quality and efficiency of the management strategies that should be placed. In this way, this review aims at updating and consolidating current knowledge regarding the adverse effects of aquatic toxins, attempting to going beyond their main toxicity pathways in human and related models' health, i.e., also focusing on ecologically relevant model organisms. For conciseness and considering the severity in terms of documented human health risks as a reference, we restricted the detailed revision work to neurotoxic cyanotoxins and marine toxins. This comprehensive revision of the systemic effects of aquatic neurotoxins provides a broad overview of the exposure and the hazard that these compounds pose to human and environmental health. Regulatory approaches they are given worldwide, as well as (eco)toxicity data available were hence thoroughly reviewed. Critical research gaps were identified particularly regarding (i) the toxic effects other than those typical of the recognized disease/disorder each toxin causes following acute exposure in humans and also in other biota; and (ii) alternative detection tools capable of being early-warning signals for aquatic toxins occurrence and therefore provide better human and environmental safety insurance. Future directions on aquatic toxins research are discussed in face of the existent knowledge, with particular emphasis on the much-needed development and implementation of effective alternative (eco)toxicological biomarkers for these toxins. The wide-spanning approach followed herein will hopefully stimulate future research more broadly addressing the environmental hazardous potential of aquatic toxins.

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