Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 34, Number 4, July-August 2003
Page(s) 361 - 377
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2003) 361-377
Vet. Res. 34 (2003) 361-377
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2003019

Health hazards for terrestrial vertebrates from toxic cyanobacteria in surface water ecosystems

Jean-François Brianda, Stéphan Jacqueta, Cécile Bernardb and Jean-François Humberta

a  INRA, UMR CARRTEL, Équipe Microbiologie Aquatique, BP 511, 74203 Thonon Cedex, France
b  MNHN, USM 505, écosystèmes et Interactions Toxiques, 12 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris Cedex 05, France

(Received 5 November 2002; accepted 21 March 2003)

Toxigenic cyanobacteria are photosynthetic prokaryotes that are most often recognized in marine and freshwater systems, such as lakes, ponds, rivers, and estuaries. When environmental conditions (such as light, nutrients, water column stability, etc.) are suitable for their growth, cyanobacteria may proliferate and form toxic blooms in the upper, sunlit layers. The biology and ecology of cyanobacteria have been extensively studied throughout the world during the last two decades, but we still know little about the factors and processes involved in regulating toxin production for many cyanobacterial species. In this minireview, we discuss these microorganisms, and more especially the toxins they produce, as a potential and important health risk for wild and domestic animals.

Key words: cyanobacteria / aquatic ecosystem / toxin / health risk / mammal

Correspondence and reprints: Jean-François Humbert Tel.: (33) 4 50 26 78 09; fax: (33) 4 50 26 07 60; email:

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2003