Cyanotoxins uptake and accumulation in crops: Phytotoxicity and implications on human health

Chanusha Weralupitiya, Rasika P. Wanigatunge, Dilantha Gunawardana, Meththika Vithanage, Dhammika Magana-Arachchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The invasive nature of cyanotoxin-producing cyanobacteria and the adverse effects concerning their toxic impacts have gained heightened scientific attention of late. The persistence of cyanotoxins in irrigation water leads to bioaccumulation in plants, the development of phytotoxic effects, and the threat of groundwater contamination. The accumulation of cyanotoxins in plants is caused by several factors leading to severe toxic effects, including reduced plant growth and seed germination, enhanced oxidative stress, lowered rate of mineral uptake, decreased photosynthetic efficiency, and loss of chlorophyll content. The uptake and accumulation of cyanotoxins in plants can be concentration-dependent, as reported in a myriad of studies. Even though several studies have reported phytotoxic effects of cyanotoxin contamination, field-related studies reporting phytotoxic effects are particularly inadequate. Paradoxically, at realistic conditions, some plants are reported to be tolerant of cyanotoxins. Furthermore, the breadth of adverse impacts of cyanotoxins on human health is significant. Cyanotoxins cause major health effects including cancer, oxidative stress, organelle dysfunction, DNA damage, and enzyme inhibition. This review intends to present compelling arguments on microcystins (MCs), cylindrospermopsins (CYN), β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), and anatoxin-a (ANTX-a), their uptake and accumulation in crop plants, phytotoxic effects on plants, and potential health implications to humans. The accumulation of cyanotoxins implants cultivated as food crops, resulting in phytotoxic effects and adverse impacts on human health are serious issues that require scientific inputs to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes


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