AWRI Environmental Chemistry

Cyanobacteria and Associated Toxins in West Michigan Lakes


Hong, Y., A. Steinman, B. Biddanda, R. Rediske, and G. Fahnenstiel. 2006. Occurrence of the toxin-producing cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii in Mona and Muskegon Lakes, Michigan. J. Great Lakes Res. 32: 645-652.

Project Description:

AWRI will develop information on the occurrence of cyanobacteria and their related toxins in seven west Michigan lakes (Spring Lake, Mona Lake, Lake Macatawa, Muskegon Lake, White Lake, Bear Lake and Duck Lake) with heavy recreational use and determine how numbers and concentrations compare to the World Health Organization guidelines. This information will be communicated to decision makers and stakeholder groups associated with the study lakes.

This project will assess the significance of cyanobacteria blooms by three types of assessments:

1. Cyanobacteria species composition, abundance, and biovolume
2. Chlorophyll a
3. Cyanobacteria toxin measurement

Since cyanobacteria produce a variety of toxins, it is necessary to determine the composition, abundance, and biovolume of taxa present in each lake. Based on these values and chlorophyll a concentrations, the data will be analyzed to determine if correlations exist between these parameters and toxin concentrations.

A Muskegon Lake Sample

We will use enzyme linked immunosorbent assay kits (ELISA) as a screening tool to identify samples that contain microcystin LR. ELISA is an inexpensive and rapid test method that provides qualitative information related to the presence of the toxin and its concentration range. If positive results are found, High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) will be used to confirm these values. If other toxic cyanobacteria species are present, High Pressure Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS) will be used to determine the concentration of anatoxins and cylindrospermopsin. Since interferences with HPLC analysis are possible, LC/MS will be used to confirm a subset of the positive microcystin LR samples.

This results will be distributed through individual reports of the data for stakeholder organizations and local public health agencies. In addition, the data will be presented in a public format to interested organizations and partners.


Open Water Sampling on Lake Macatawa

Page last modified March 13, 2014