Diversity of aquatic plants and associated cyanobacteria influence the risk of neurotoxins to recreational and drinking water use of water bodies
In recent years, the beaches of several German bodies of water used for drinking water and recreation have been closed. The reason for this was the risk of poisoning from neurotoxins. These toxins, which are harmful to the human nervous system, originate from cyanobacteria that have not yet been sufficiently studied. Underwater plants provide a large surface area for native cyanobacteria and are increasingly reappearing in bodies of water after renaturation measures, although usually not in their original diversity. Preliminary results indicate that only certain aquatic plant species are associated with toxic cyanobacteria. At the same time, the diversity of cyanobacteria appears to have an effect on the quality and quantity of neurotoxins and their toxicity.
Against this background, project DIVATOX aims to combine current findings from aquatic ecology and neurotoxicology in an interdisciplinary approach. The aim is to investigate the effects of the diversity of aquatic plants and associated cyanobacteria as well as environmental conditions on the occurrence, composition, and quantity of neurotoxins in inland waters. From this, health risks for humans and animals will ultimately be derived. In the first funding phase, a systematic field study is to be carried out and the corresponding methods optimized. In addition, a workshop is to be organized with researchers from the natural and health sciences and societal stakeholders. The aim is to identify further relevant partners for the second funding phase and make preparations for an intervention study.