Understanding the distribution and presence of different cyanotoxins in Ontario waters

Cyanobacteria algae

Cyanobacteria, algae that form on the surface of nutrient-rich waters, can produce an array of toxins. Accurately measuring these toxins in waterbodies is crucial because they can pose risks to human health and other biological communities. Unfortunately, monitoring and research of these toxins has focused almost exclusively on one particular compound—microcystins. Cyanobacteria, however, can also produce other toxins.

This study will investigate what other cyanobacteria toxins are present in large freshwater systems to ensure these waters are protected. It also will look at the presence of different varieties of microcystins, which can have different toxicity levels. Understanding these variations is important because, for example, a lake with low total microcystin that comprise more toxic varieties can be of equal, if not greater, concern than a lake with high total microcystin composed largely of less toxic types. Researchers will focus on Canada’s Great Lakes including the Laurentian Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg, which provide a major source of drinking water and recreational activities for millions of people. The researchers will monitor sites where cyanobacteria blooms have been occurring regularly during the phytoplankton peak growing season (July – Sept) and assess the presence of toxins. They also will inform federal and provincial government agencies and local communities on their findings.

For more information, please contact Dr. Irena Creed at ([email protected])

Cyanobacteria Frequency Ontario (Winter et al., 2011 – updated)

Other RAEON Projects


Inland Lakes

Lake Erie

Huron-Erie Corridor

St. Lawrence River

Lake Superior

Lake Ontario

Lake Huron

Lake Michigan

Projects to Come

Rideau Canal Waterway

Lake Winnipeg

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    Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
    University of Windsor
    2990 Riverside Drive West
    Windsor, Ontario, N9C 1A2