EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


In Vivo Phycocyanin Flourometry as a Potential Rapid Screening Tool for Predicting Elevated Microcystin Concentrations at Eutrophic Lakes

Author ORCID Identifier

Jason MarionORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-5177-889X


Environmental Health Science

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Current approaches for assessing human health risks associated with cyanotoxins often rely on the quantification of microcystin. Significant limitations of current approaches are cost and time to obtain a result. To address these challenges, a numerical index for screening microcystin risks above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) low-risk threshold for microcystin was developed for eutrophic Midwestern U.S. lakes based on water quality results from 182 beach water samples collected from seven Ohio lakes. In 48 (26.4%) samples we observed microcystin concentrations as measured by ELISA that exceeded the 4 μg/L microcystin threshold. A multivariable logistic regression model using practical real-time measures of in vivo phycocyanin (by fluorometry) and secchi depth was constructed to estimate the probability of a beach sample exceeding 4 μg/L microcystin. The final model achieved statistical significance (p = 0.030) as well as good calibration (as measured by the goodness-of-fit test comparing observed to expected counts within deciles of risk based on the model, p = 0.329) and discrimination (as indicated by the area under the receiver-operator-curve (0.795)). These results demonstrate two rapid and practical measures of recreational water quality are effective in identifying “at risk” lake conditions warranting additional management (e.g., advisory and/or advanced testing).

Journal Title

Environmental Science & Technology

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