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Influence of biotic and abiotic environmental factors on production, release, persistence and degradation of Cylindrospermopsin, a cyanobacterial toxin
(Cooperation with the German Environmental Agency)

Cyanobacteria are able to synthesize a couple of metabolites of toxicological concern. One of these cyanotoxins is cylindrospermopsin (CYN), a hepatotoxic alkaloid. The liver, heart, kidney, spleen, thymus and intestine are also affected. The first documented incidence of human intoxication occurred on Palm Island (Australia) in 1979, where children and adults suffered from hepatoenteritis.

Cylindrospermopsin has also occurred in German lakes. It is synthesized by different species of cyanobacteria and a significant amount of cylindrospermopsin is dissolved in the water. There are several studies about the effect of cylindrospermopsin on mammals, but very little is known about its biological importance.

Cyanobacteria can produce mucilage that offers an attractive habitat for microorganisms, as shown by microscopic analysis. Associated bacteria often show a spatial relationship with cyanobacteria, therefore it can be assumed that there is a functional relationship.

The aim is to learn more about the influence of heterotrophic bacteria on production, release and occurrence of the toxin in order to understand these interactions. This project will make a contribution that helps clarify the ecological role of CYN-production. In the course of the project, conventional microbiological methods like isolation of microorganisms are combined with modern molecular biological and analytical methods.

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Head of Chair

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ulrich Szewzyk
BH 6-1
BH-N 604
Tel +49 30 314 73 461