Effects of microcystin-LR and cylindrospermopsin on plant-soil systems: A review of their relevance for agricultural plant quality and public health

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Toxic cyanobacterial blooms are recognized as an emerging environmental threat worldwide. Although microcystin-LR is the most frequently documented cyanotoxin, studies on cylindrospermopsin have been increasing due to the invasive nature of cylindrospermopsin-producing cyanobacteria. The number of studies regarding the effects of cyanotoxins on agricultural plants has increased in recent years, and it has been suggested that the presence of microcystin-LR and cylindrospermopsin in irrigation water may cause toxic effects in edible plants. The uptake of these cyanotoxins by agricultural plants has been shown to induce morphological and physiological changes that lead to a potential loss of productivity. There is also evidence that edible terrestrial plants can bioaccumulate cyanotoxins in their tissues in a concentration dependent-manner. Moreover, the number of consecutive cycles of watering and planting in addition to the potential persistence of microcystin-LR and cylindrospermopsin in the environment are likely to result in groundwater contamination. The use of cyanotoxin-contaminated water for agricultural purposes may therefore represent a threat to both food security and food safety. However, the deleterious effects of cyanotoxins on agricultural plants and public health seem to be dependent on the concentrations studied, which in most cases are non-environmentally relevant. Interestingly, at ecologically relevant concentrations, the productivity and nutritional quality of some agricultural plants seem not to be impaired and may even be enhanced. However, studies assessing if the potential tolerance of agricultural plants to these concentrations can result in cyanotoxin and allergen accumulation in the edible tissues are lacking. This review combines the most current information available regarding this topic with a realistic assessment of the impact of cyanobacterial toxins on agricultural plants, groundwater quality and public health.

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