Mechanistic studies on the advanced oxidation and photochemical transformation of cyanotoxins (microcystins)

Weihua Song, Florida International University


The increased occurrence of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms and the production of associated cyanotoxins have presented a threat to drinking water sources. Among the most common types of cyanotoxins found in potable water are microcystins (MCs), a family of cyclic heptapeptides containing substrates. MCs are strongly hepatotoxic and known to initiate tumor promoting activity. The presence of sub-lethal doses of MCs in drinking water is implicated as one of the key risk factors for an unusually high occurrence of primary liver cancer. ^ A variety of traditional water treatment methods have been attempted for the removal of cyanotoxins, but with limited success. Advanced Oxidation Technologies (AOTs) are attractive alternatives to traditional water treatments. We have demonstrated ultrasonic irradiation and UV/H2O2 lead to the degradation of cyanotoxins in drinking water. These studies demonstrate AOTs can effectively degrade MCs and their associated toxicity is dramatically reduced. We have conducted detailed studies of different degradation pathways of MCs and conclude that the hydroxyl radical is responsible for a significant fraction of the observed degradation. Results indicate preliminary products of the sonolysis of MCs are due to the hydroxyl radical attack on the benzene ring and substitution and cleavage of the diene of the Adda peptide residue. AOTs are attractive methods for treatment of cyanotoxins in potable water supplies. ^ The photochemical transformation of MCs is important in the environmental degradation of MCs. Previous studies implicated singlet oxygen as a primary oxidant in the photochemical transformation of MCs. Our results indicate that singlet oxygen predominantly leads to degradation of the phycocyanin, pigments of blue green algae, hence reducing the degradation of MCs. The predominant process involves isomerization of the diene (6E to 6Z) in the Adda side chain via photosensitized isomerization involving the photoexcited phycocyanin. Our results indicate that photosensitized processes play a key role in the environmental fate and elimination of MCs in the natural waters. ^

Subject Area

Chemistry, Organic

Recommended Citation

Song, Weihua, "Mechanistic studies on the advanced oxidation and photochemical transformation of cyanotoxins (microcystins)" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3249719.