A phycocyanin probe as a tool for monitoring cyanobacteria in freshwater bodies

  • Brient L
  • Lengronne M
  • Bertrand E
 et al. 
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In many countries, the presence of cyanobacteria in freshwater bodies used for both drinking water and recreational purposes is under increasing public health attention. Water managers are considering how to implement monitoring that leads to a minimization of the risks incurred by the users of potentially contaminated sites. To address this question, this study involved assessing the performance of a submersible probe for measuring phycocyanin-specific fluorescence as a function of cyanobacterial biomass, with the aim of applying it as a tool for surveillance management. Its advantages and limits compared to more traditional analyses are discussed. The monitoring of cyanobacteria in the water bodies of western France was carried out using a minifluorimeter specific to the fluorescence of phycocyanin, a pigment specific to cyanobacteria. The results are compared with the analyses recommended by the World Health Organisation (chlorophyll a and cell counting). This study based on nearly 800 samples shows a significant correlation between the phycocyanin content and the cyanobacterial biomass, expressed as the number of cells per mL (R2 = 0.73). This submersible probe is simple and rapid to use, making it possible to take into account horizontal and vertical heterogeneities in the proliferation growth. In this way, we are able to detect at an early stage the conditions that could potentially lead to a risk, in order to start sampling. Due to its sensitivity, this tool proves suitable for monitoring aimed at reducing the risks incurred by the users of contaminated sites and launching preventative actions. The use of the phycocyanin probe provides an effective tool to complement traditional analyses of cyanobacterial presence. It is suggested that a surveillance protocol based on phycocyanin concentration can significantly improved the accuracy of the extent of cyanobacterial bloom development in the light of spatial and temporal variabilities associated with these occurrences.

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  • Luc Brient

  • Marion Lengronne

  • Emilie Bertrand

  • Delphine Rolland

  • Arnaud Sipel

  • Delphine Steinmann

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