Classification of Toxic Cyanobacterial Blooms by Fourier-Transform Infrared Technology (FTIR)


Cyanobacteria are gram-negative photosynthetic bacteria capable of producing toxins responsible for morbidity and mortality in humans and domestic animals. They are capable of forming concentrated blooms, referred to as harmful algal blooms (HABs). Characterization of HABs is necessary to reduce risks from human and animal exposures to toxins. Current methods used to classify cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins have limitations related to time, analyst skills, and cost. Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) is a potential tool for rapid, robust cyanobacterial classification that is not limited by these factors. To examine the practicality of this method, library screening with default software algorithms was performed on HAB samples, followed by principle component cluster analyses and dendrogram analysis of samples meeting minimum quality requirements. Two tested spectrometers and software packages were successful at distinguishing cyanobacteria from green algae. Principle component cluster analysis and dendrogram analysis also resulted in clear differentiation between cyanobacteria and green algae. While these methods cannot be used independently to fully characterize HABs, they show the potential and practicality of FTIR as a screening tool.

Share and Cite:

G. Kenne and D. Merwe, "Classification of Toxic Cyanobacterial Blooms by Fourier-Transform Infrared Technology (FTIR)," Advances in Microbiology, Vol. 3 No. 6A, 2013, pp. 1-8. doi: 10.4236/aim.2013.36A001.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] O. A. Koksharova, “Application of Genetic Tools to Cyanobacterial Biotechnology and Ecology,” In: P. M. Gault and H. J. Marler, Eds., Handbook on Cyanobacteria: Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Applications, Nova Science Publishers, New York, 2009, pp. 211-232.
[2] A. Gamboro, E. Barbaro, R. Zangrando and C. Barbante, “Simultaneous Quantification of Microcystins and Nodularin in Aerosol Samples Using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography/Negative Electrospray Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry,” Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Vol. 26, No. 12, 2012, pp. 1497-1506.
[3] G. A. Codd, L. F. Morrison and J. S. Metcalf, “Cyanobacterial Toxins: Risk Management for Health Protection,” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Vol. 203, No. 3, 2005, pp. 264-272.
[4] S. A. Oehrle, B. Southwell and J. Westrick, “Detection of Various Freshwater Cyanobacterial Toxins Using Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry,” Toxicon, Vol. 55, No. 5, 2010, pp. 965-972.
[5] J. Al-Tebrineh, M. M. Gehringer, R. Ackaalan and B. A. Neilan, “A New Quantitative PCR Assay for the Detection of Hepatotoxigenic Cyanobacteria,” Toxicon, Vol. 57, No. 4, 2011, pp. 546-554.
[6] A. Martins and V. Vasconcelos, “Use of qPCR for the Study of Hepatotoxic Cyanobacteria Population Dynamics,” Archives of Microbiology, Vol. 193, No. 9, 2011, pp. 615-627.
[7] J.-F. Briand, S. Jacquet, C. Bernard and J.-F. Humbert, “Health Hazards for Terrestrial Vertebrates from Toxic Cyanobacteria in Surface Water Ecosystems,” Veterinary Research, Vol. 34, No. 4, 2003, pp. 361-377.
[8] D. van der Merwe, L. Sebbag, J. C. Nietfeld, M. T. Aubel, A. Foss and E. Carney, “Investigation of a Microcystisaeruginosa cyanobacterial Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Associated with Acute Microcystin Toxicosis in a Dog,” Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, Vol. 24, No. 4, 2012, pp. 679-687.
[9] B. M. Paddle, “Therapy and Prophylaxis of Inhaled Biological Toxins,” Journal of Applied Toxicology, Vol. 23, No. 3, 2003, pp. 139-170.
[10] S. W. Wright, D. P. Thomas, H. J. Marchant, H. W. Higgins, M. D. Mackey and D. J. Mackey, “Analysis of Phytoplankton of the Australian Sector of the Southern Ocean: Comparisons of Microscopy and Size Frequency Data with Interpretations of Pigment HPLC Data Using the ‘CHEMTAX’ Matrix Factorization Program,” Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 144, No. 1, 1996, pp. 285-298.
[11] K. Rudi, F. Larsen and K. S. Jakobsen, “Detection of Toxin-Producing Cyanobacteria by Use of Paramagnetic Beads for Cell Concentration and DNA Purification,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 64, No. 1, 1998, pp. 34-37.
[12] M. D. Mackey, D. J. Mackey, H. W. Higgins and S. W. Wright, “CHEMTAX—A Program for Estimating Class Abundances from Chemical Markers: Application to HPLC Measurements of Phytoplankton,” Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 144, No. 1, 1996, pp. 265-283.
[13] J. An and W. W. Carmichael, “Use of a Colorimetric Protein Phosphatase Inhibition Assay and Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay for the Study of Microcystins and Nodularins,” Toxicon, Vol. 32, No. 12, 1994, pp. 1495-1507.
[14] C. Sacksteder and B. A. Barry, “Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy: A Molecular Approach to and Organismal Question,” Journal of Phycology, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2001, pp. 197-199.
[15] M. Giordano, M. Kansiz, P. Heraud, J. Beardall, B. Wood and D. McNaughton, “Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy as a Novel Tool to Investigate Changes in Intracellular Macromolecular Pools in the Marine Microalga Chaetocerosmuellerii (Bacillariophyceae),” Journal of Phycology, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2001, pp. 271-279.
[16] K. Stehfest, J. Toepel and C. Wilhelm, “The Application of Micro-FTIR Spectroscopy to Analyze Nutrient Stress-Related Changes in Biomass Composition of Phytoplankton Algae,” Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Vol. 43, No. 7, 2005, pp. 717-726.
[17] M. Kansiz, P. Heraud, B. Wood, F. Burden, J. Beardall and D. McNaughton, “Fourier Transform Infrared Microspectroscopy and Chemometrics as a Tool for the Discrimination of Cyanobacterial Strains,” Phytochemistry, Vol. 52, No. 3, 1999, pp. 407-417.
[18] A. P. Dean, M. C. Martin and D. C. Sigee, “Resolution of Codimant Phytoplankton Species in a Eutrophic Lake Using Synchrotron-Based Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy,” Phycologia, Vol. 46, No. 2, 2007, pp. 151-159.
[19] A. P. Dean and D. C. Sigee, “Molecular Heterogeneity in Aphanizomenon Flosaquae and Anabaena Flosaquae (Cyanophyta): A Synchrotron-Based Fourier-Transform Infrared Study of Lake Micropopulations,” European Journal of Phycology, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2006, pp. 201-212.
[20] A. Parikh and D. Madamwar, “Partial Characterization of Extracellular Polysaccharides from Cyanobacteria,” Bioresource Technology, Vol. 97, No. 15, 2006, pp. 1822-1827.
[21] J. Coates, “Interpretation of Infrared Spectra, A Practical Approach,” In: M. R. A., Ed., Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Chichester, 2000, pp. 10815-10837.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.