The dynamics and release characteristics of microcystins in the plateau Lake Erhai, Southwest China

Abstract

Microcystins (MCs) have seriously polluted drinking water supplies and have caused great harm to aquatic organisms and humans. Understanding the dynamics of MC concentrations and its influencing factors is necessary for drinking water safety. Many previous studies on MC pollution focused on intracellular MCs rather than on extracellular MCs, which are more difficult to remove by water treatment. So far, the release characteristics of MCs and the relationships between intracellular and extracellular MCs are still unclear. To explore these questions, a survey was conducted at 18 sites across Lake Erhai from May 2014 to April 2015 as in Lake Erhai the frequency and coverage area of cyanobacterial blooms have been increasing. Variation of extracellular MCs lagged behind that of intracellular MCs. The highest value of intracellular MCs was 1.07 μg L−1 in October 2014 and the highest extracellular MC concentration was 0.035 μg L−1 in November 2014. Intracellular MCs were positively influenced by MC-producing cyanobacterial biomass, water temperature (WT), pH, and conductivity (Cond). The extracellular MCs showed little correlation with cyanobacterial abundances and intracellular MC concentrations, but showed significant negative correlations with WT, pH, and Cond. These results indicated that high biomass and high intracellular MC concentrations did not quickly lead to large releases of MCs, and that when cyanobacterial cells died and blooms disappeared, MCs were intensively released into the water, posing the greatest threat to drinking water supply.

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Funding

This research was jointly funded by the National Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment (2017ZX0740100301), the Featured Institute Service Projects from Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y85Z061601), and Scientific Research Foundation for Doctors, Marine Fisheries Research Institute of Zhejiang (112019108500105).

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Rong Zhu: methodology, material preparation, data collection, data analysis, and writing-original draft. Huan Wang: material preparation, data collection, and data analysis. Hong Shen: review and editing. Xuwei Deng: review and editing. Jun Chen: validation, review and editing, resources, funding acquisition, and supervision.

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Correspondence to Jun Chen.

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Zhu, R., Wang, H., Shen, H. et al. The dynamics and release characteristics of microcystins in the plateau Lake Erhai, Southwest China. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-12312-8

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Keywords

  • Microcystins variation
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Environmental factors
  • Lake Erhai