Wilmington Center for Marine Science

Marvin, NC, United States

Wilmington Center for Marine Science

Marvin, NC, United States
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Isaacs J.D.,Wilmington Center for Marine Science | Strangman W.K.,Wilmington Center for Marine Science | Barbera A.E.,Wilmington Center for Marine Science | Mallin M.A.,Wilmington Center for Marine Science | And 2 more authors.
Harmful Algae | Year: 2014

The Cape Fear River is the largest river system in North Carolina. It is heavily used as a source of drinking water for humans and livestock as well as a source of irrigation water for crops, and production water for industry. It also serves as a major fishery for both commercial and recreational use. In recent years, possibly related to increased eutrophication of the river, massive blooms of cyanobacteria, identified as Microcystis aeruginosa have been observed. Bloom samples collected in 2009 and 2012 were chemically analyzed to determine if they contained cyanobacterial toxins known as microcystins. Both blooms were found to produce microcystins in high yields. Microcystins are potent hepatotoxins that can be bio-accumulated in the food chain. Recent biological studies have also shown a host of other potentially harmful effects of low level microcystin exposure. Detailed chemical analysis of these blooms led us to discover that these blooms produce an additional family of cyanobacterial peptides know as the micropeptins, including two new members named micropeptins 1106 and 1120. The biological activities of these new molecules have not yet been determined, although protease activity has been well documented for this peptide group. These data indicate a need for thorough monitoring of toxin levels especially during bloom events in addition to additional biological testing of other cyanopeptides present in blooms. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


The Cape Fear River is the largest river system in North Carolina. It is heavily used as a source of drinking water for humans and livestock as well as a source of irrigation water for crops, and production water for industry. It also serves as a major fishery for both commercial and recreational use. In recent years, possibly related to increased eutrophication of the river, massive blooms of cyanobacteria, identified as Microcystis aeruginosa have been observed. Bloom samples collected in 2009 and 2012 were chemically analyzed to determine if they contained cyanobacterial toxins known as microcystins. Both blooms were found to produce microcystins in high yields. Microcystins are potent hepatotoxins that can be bio-accumulated in the food chain. Recent biological studies have also shown a host of other potentially harmful effects of low level microcystin exposure. Detailed chemical analysis of these blooms led us to discover that these blooms produce an additional family of cyanobacterial peptides know as the micropeptins, including two new members named micropeptins 1106 and 1120. The biological activities of these new molecules have not yet been determined, although protease activity has been well documented for this peptide group. These data indicate a need for thorough monitoring of toxin levels especially during bloom events in addition to additional biological testing of other cyanopeptides present in blooms.

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