African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Cyanotoxins in small artificial dams in Kenya utilised for cage fish farming – a threat to local people?

M.N. Kaggwa, N Straubinger-Gansberger, M Schagerl


Nine small artificial dams located in different climatic regions of Kenya were studied. The local communities use the stored water for various purposes, such as irrigation, domestic use, watering of livestock and cage fish farming. Such intense use is commonly accompanied by eutrophication, including fast growth of cyanobacteria, which at times produce cyanotoxins threatening human and animal life. We studied the pelagic community, analysed abiotic variables and identified microcystins by means of high performance liquid chromatography and ELISA kits at monthly intervals over a period of one year. Mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) was used to identify structural variants of microcystins by their protonated masses (M + H). Three dams contained microcystins, with the highly toxic Microcystin-LR being identified as the most prominent substance. Cell content of the toxin varied from 7.2 to 686.7 fg cell−1. Basic limnological variables that indicate the probability of toxin presence were also recorded. Non-parametric Mann–Whitney U-test revealed significant differences in soluble reactive phosphorous, nitrate-N, water depth, total hardness and post-Nauplii stages sampled between toxin-producing and non-toxin-producing dams. Although most of the samples did not contain high amounts of cyanobacteria, the cyanotoxin-problem was evident, suggesting the need for regular cyanotoxin monitoring programs.

Keywords: aquaculture, cyanoprokaryotes, microcystin, Microcystis, phytoplankton
AJOL African Journals Online