The cyanotoxin-microcystins: current overview

  • Rajesh P. Rastogi
  • Rajeshwar P. Sinha
  • Aran Incharoensakdi


The monocyclic heptapeptides microcystins (MCs), are a group of hepatotoxins, produced worldwide by some bloom-forming cyanobacterial species/strains both in marine and freshwater ecosystems. MCs are synthesized non-ribosomally by large multi-enzyme complexes consisting of different modules including polyketide synthases and non-ribosomal peptide synthetases, as well as several tailoring enzymes. More than 85 different variants of MCs have been reported to exist in nature. These are chemically stable, but undergo bio-degradation in natural water reservoirs. Direct or indirect intake of MCs through the food web is assumed to be a highly exposed route in risk assessment of cyanotoxins. MCs are the most commonly found cyanobacterial toxins that cause a major challenge for the production of safe drinking water and pose a serious threat to global public health as well as fundamental ecological processes due to their potential carcinogenicity. Here, we emphasize recent updates on different modes of action of their possible carcinogenicity. Besides the harmful effects on human and animals, MC producing cyanobacteria can also present a harmful effect on growth and development of agriculturally important plants. Overall, this review emphasizes the current understanding of MCs with their occurrence, geographical distribution, accumulation in the aquatic as well as terrestrial ecosystems, biosynthesis, climate-driven changes in their synthesis, stability and current aspects on its degradation, analysis, mode of action and their ecotoxicological effects.


Cyanobacteria Cyanotoxins Microcystin Biodegradation Mode of action Toxicity 



Rajesh P. Rastogi is thankful to the Graduate School, Chulalongkorn University (Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund) and Faculty of Science for Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Aran Incharoensakdi thanks Commission on Higher Education, Thailand and Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund of Chulalongkorn University, for the National Research University Project Grant (FW0659A) and the Research Grant (RES560530052-FW), respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajesh P. Rastogi
    • 1
  • Rajeshwar P. Sinha
    • 2
  • Aran Incharoensakdi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cyanobacterial Biotechnology, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of ScienceChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Laboratory of Photobiology and Molecular Microbiology, Centre of Advanced Study in BotanyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia

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