Are interactive effects of harmful algal blooms and copper pollution a concern for water quality management?

Are interactive effects of harmful algal blooms and copper pollution a concern for water quality management?

water researchCyanobacteria, commonly known as harmful algae due to their adverse effects on aquatic organisms, are a major concern to water quality. While it is well-known that cyanobacteria reduce the fitness of Daphnia sp., their combined effects with chemicals have hardly been documented. In our recent paper, we investigate how cyanobacteria act together with copper, commonly used in algaecides and fungicides, to impact the model organism Daphnia. The results show that cyanobacteria and copper together can considerably impair daphnid reproduction but that their combined effects are overall close to expectations based on their individual toxicities and hence of limited concern for water quality management.


Scientific abstract

Toxicity of mixtures of stressors is one of the major challenges in water quality management. Yet until now risk assessment focuses almost exclusively on the effect characterization of individual stressors. An important concern is the potential interactive effects of cyanobacteria, sometimes referred to as harmful algal blooms, with chemical stressors. Here, we evaluated the response of two clones of the freshwater cladoceran Daphnia magna to the combined effects of five cyanobacteria and copper. The latter remains the most commonly applied chemical algaecide and is also often detected in eutrophic run-offs that promote harmful algal blooms. Because the different cyanobacteria studied here have known modes of action that are similar, as well as dissimilar compared to the known modes of actions of copper, we based our assessment on two widely used reference models, i.e. the Concentration Addition (CA) model for similarly acting stressors and the Independent Action (IA) model for dissimilarly acting stressors. We highlight four major findings. First, the conclusions drawn on the interaction type (non-interaction vs. synergism or antagonism) between either of the five cyanobacteria species and copper were the same for both D. magna clones. Second, the interaction type differed between the Microcystis + copper mixture (non-interaction according to CA and synergism according to IA) and the four other cyanobacteria + copper mixtures (antagonism according to CA and non-interaction according to IA). Third, both reference models provided reasonable predictions for all observed mixture toxicities. Fourth, we consistently obtained different results with the IA reference model compared to the CA model. More specifically, mixtures of Cu and Microcystis were synergistic with IA whereas non-interaction was observed with CA, while the remaining four cyanobacteria þ copper combinations all displayed non-interaction with IA and antagonism with CA. Despite the IA reference model providing a marginally better fit to the data in general, the CA reference model delivered more conservative predictions for mixture toxicity of cyanobacteria þ copper in all cases compared to the IA reference model. Thus, the CA model could serve as a conservative model to account for mixture toxicity of cyanobacteria and copper in water quality management, as it gives rise to conservative predictions of mixed stressor toxicity at sub-lethal effect levels in D. magna. Finally, and in accordance with other studies of cyanobacteria + chemical mixtures, we did not detect any strong synergistic effects of copper and cyanobacteria mixtures on D. magna. Consequently, based on our study with the model freshwater zooplankton species Daphnia, interactive effects of harmful algal blooms and copper pollution appear to be of limited concern for water quality management.


Full reference (link)

Are interactive effects of harmful algal blooms and copper pollution a concern for water quality management? Jennifer D. Hochmuth, Jana Asselman, Karel A.C. De Schamphelaere. Water Research. 2014. 60: 41-53.