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About Blooming Time
It is now more important than ever to monitor cyanobacteria levels in drinking and recreational water.
Biotechnology company Zeulab, based in Zaragoza, Spain, offers MicroCystest, an enzymatic test that detects a group of hepatotoxins, called microcystins, produced by cyanobacteria during and after algal blooms. Zeulab products are distributed in the UK by Cambio, which offers a range of world-class products for monitoring water quality and safety.
Climate change and intensified land use have been linked to an unprecedented expansion in harmful cyanobacteria in lakes across Europe and worldwide. Data published this year reveal for the first time that cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, have increased significantly since 1800, rising most rapidly post-1945. Nutrient concentration (phosphorus and nitrogen) and rising temperature appear to be the root cause . Algal blooms pose a serious threat in water sources as cyanobacteria are known to contain harmful hepato- and neurotoxins.
Water that contains microcystins is known to be carcinogenic, posing a real threat to humans and animals. The toxicity of microcystins is associated with the inhibition of the protein phosphatases 1 and 2A enzymes (PP1 & PP2A), which leads to hepatocyte dysfunction.
MicroCystest is the only commercial test kit available on the market that is based on the inhibition of the PP2A activity produced by microcystins. The test reproduces the mechanism of action of these toxins in cells. It can detect all potential toxic microcystins (there are more than 80 described), offering significant advantages over other detection methods such as ELISA or HPLC.
Little is known about the genomic content of the cyanobacteria that produce microcystins – the Microcystis genus. Researchers recently extracted DNA from bloom samples using the MoBio PowerWater DNA isolation kit, also available from Cambio, to increase our understanding of these fascinating, but potentially very dangerous, organisms. 
Cambio is also the sole UK supplier for Xenometrix, which offers a broad range of toxicological tests for river or drinking water samples, including a Growth Inhibition Test for cyanobacteria. Alongside this, Ames MPF and Ames II mutagenicity kits from Xenometrix are standardized and come with a certificate of analysis. The procedure of the assay, the quality control as well as the components of the kit are compliant with OECD 471 and ICH guideline M7 for genotoxic impurities.