A novel approach for monitoring, toxicity evaluation and risk assessment of cyanobacterial toxins – a use of passive samplers – PS4CTX

(2011 – 2013)

Reintegration grants of SoMoPro programme aim to support Czech researchers after their return from long-term (min 3 years) research visits in non-EU countries and to reintegrate Czech scientists to research activities in South Moravian Region. The goals of SoMoPro programme are following: 1) Provide training and career development to researchers; 2) Build on the growing activities and projects in the field of R&D and innovation in the region of Southern Moravia.

Scientifically, project SoMoPro “PS4CTX” granted to Dr. Pavel Babica focuses on the issue of cyanobacterial water blooms and cyanobacterial toxins in drinking water reservoirs, their influence on quality of drinking water and associated human health risks.



control cells (normal communication)


cell treated with cyanobacterial extract for 30 min (complete inhibition of GJIC).


Microcystin passive sampler in metal cage.

Gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) evaluated by scrape-loading/dye-transfer method in WB-344 cell line


HPLC-DAD chromatogram of the cyanobacterial extract recorded at 238 nm containing microcystin-LR peak.

The project objectives are defined as follows:

Use of passive sampling for monitoring of cyanobacterial toxins microcystins in drinking water treatment plants
Microcystins are most likely the most common and important group of cyanobacterial toxins. They can be detected in about 70% Czech water reservoir including drinking water reservoirs. However, there is only limited information on microcystin concentrations in drinking water. The first aim of the project therefore focuses on the monitoring of microcystins in drinking waters and drinking water treatment plants with the use of traditional grab sampling approaches as well as with the use of novel and in the field of cyanotoxinu rarely employed approach based on so-called passive sampling. The obtained data will be used to evaluate applicability of passive samplers for drinking water quality control, evaluation of contamination of drinking water reservoirs and drinking waters, evaluation of microcystin removal efficiency of drinking water treatment technologies and assessment of human health risks of microcystins in drinking waters.

Development and optimization of passive sampler for cyanotoxin cylindrospermopsin
Beside microcystins, cyanobacteria can produce many other biologically active or toxic chemicals. Increased attention is currently focused on cyanobacterial toxin cylindrospermopsin, which is being detected with an increased frequency all over the world and recently it has been found also in Czech water reservoirs. This corresponds with the second project aim, which should lead to development of useful and practical tools for future research of hazardous cyanotoxin cylindrospermopsin, its environmental occurrence and fate and related human health risks.

In vitro evaluation of tumor promoting potential of cyanobacteria
Several studies demonstrated that besides well-recognized and characterized cyanobacterial toxins such as microcystins or cylindrospermopsin, cyanobacteria are producing many other biologically active or toxic metabolites, some of them eliciting tumor promoting effects. In vitro evaluation of tumor promoting activity of cyanobacterial samples will provide not only important information on new hazards of toxic cyanobacteria but also information about efficient methods suitable for elimination of tumor promotional activity of cyanobacteria during water treatment process.


Results and publications

Within the implementation of the project first aim, field monitoring and sampling was carried out at two drinking water reservoirs and adjacent drinking water treatment plants in summer season of 2011. Selected physical-chemical parameters, concentration and diversity of phytoplankton/cyanobacteria and microcystin concentrations (by active and passive sampling) were evaluated. In 2012, field sampling is realized at another drinking water reservoir and drinking water treatment plant.

The obtained data were so far presented at international and national conferences:

Sadilek J., Jasa, L., Strakova L., Kohoutek J., Marsalek B., Babica P.(2012): Monitoring of cyanobacterial toxins microcystins in drinking waters by active and passive sampling. In: 3rd SETAC CEE Annual Meeting – ABSTRACT BOOK, Krakow, Poland, Sep 17-19, 2012

Babica, P., Strakova, L., Sadilek, J., Jasa, L., Marsalek, B. (2012): Využití pasivních vzorkovačů k monitoringu cyanotoxinů v pitných vodách. In: 64. sjezd asociací českých a slovenských chemických společností, Chemické Listy 106:593, Olomouc, CZ, Jun 25-27, 2012

Babica, P., Strakova, L., Ploteny, M., Jasa, L., Sadilek, J., Marsalek, B. (2012): Application of passive samplers for monitoring of cyanotoxins in drinking water. In: 6th SETAC World Congress/SETAC Europe 22nd Annual Meeting – ABSTRACT BOOK, p. 153, Berlin, Germany, May 20-24, 2012

Regarding the second project aim, laboratory experiments are being carried out in order to evaluate ability of different matrices to sequester cylindrospermopsin from aqueous phase.

In relation to the third project aim, experimental results providing new information on synergism of tumor promotional effects between cyanobacterial samples and anthropogenic contamiants were published. Furthemore, it was found that cytotoxicity and tumor promoting activity of cyanobacterial samples (evaluated as inhibition of intercellular communication GJIC, activation of MAP-kinases ERK1/2 and p38) were effectively eliminated by ozone treatment, whereas chlorination was much less effective.

Novakova, K., Bláha, L., Babica, P. (2012): Tumor promoting effects of cyanobacterial extracts are potentiated by anthropogenic contaminants – Evidence from in vitro study. Chemosphere 89 (1):30-37

Sovadinová, I., Babica, P., Adamovský O., Alpatova, A., Upham, B. (2011): Epigenetic toxicity of complex cyanobacterial samples – effects of ozonation and chlorination. Bulletin VÚRH 47(2011/4):27-35


Project is funded by SoMoPro programme. Research leading to above mentioned results  was supported by European Commission within the 7th framework programme (FP/2007-2013) according to grant agreement # 229603. Research is further supported by South Moravian Region.


RNDr. Pavel Babica, Ph.D.
Phone: +420 530 506 748