State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project Id: 2010NE201B
Title: Investigating a New and Potentially Critical Cyanobacterial Toxin in Midwestern Reservoirs
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2010
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: None
Keywords: cyanobacteria, toxins, BMAA
Principal Investigator: Hoagland, Kyle D. (University of Nebraska)
Federal Funds: $ 19,568
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 40,651
Abstract: Cyanobacteria (also termed blue-green algae) often form blooms or rapid population increases in lakes and reservoirs, with associated releases of toxins. To date, seven major toxins or families of toxins have been identified as being directly associated with cyanobacteria. Recently, another blue-green algal toxin can be added to the list, namely BMAA (beta-N-methylamino-alanine), a simple amino acid which recently has proven to be a powerful neurotoxin that can have profound effects on humans. BMAA is the focus of the proposed study, in large part because of its potentially devastating effects on human health across the agricultural Midwest. In addition, its presence in many freshwater ecosystems has not been confirmed. the specific objectives of the proposed study are to: (1) determine the overall occurrence of BMAA in eutrophic reservoirs throughout Nebraska; (2) ascertain the likelihood of biomagnification of BMAA in fish (because they are the most likely transfer agent to be consumed by humans), and; (3) develop the methodologies needed to rapidly assay BMAA from waterbodies elsewhere in Nebraska, as well as worldwide. Finding elevated concentrations of BMAA in fish tissues would clearly be the most significant result of this study, prompting a series of studies, including extensive bioassays on fish and mammalian models (e.g., mice), as well as epidemiological research.

Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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