Halogen Radicals Promote the Photodegradation of Microcystins in Estuarine Systems

K.M. Parker, Elke Reichwaldt, Anas Ghadouani, W.A. Mitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 American Chemical Society.The transport of microcystin, a hepatotoxin produced by cyanobacteria (e.g., Microcystis aeruginosa), to estuaries can adversely affect estuarine and coastal ecosystems. We evaluated whether halogen radicals (i.e., reactive halogen species (RHS)) could significantly contribute to microcystin photodegradation during transport within estuaries. Experiments in synthetic and natural water samples demonstrated that the presence of seawater halides increased quantum yields for microcystin indirect photodegradation by factors of 3-6. Additional experiments indicated that photoproduced RHS were responsible for this effect. Despite the fact that dissolved organic matter (DOM) concentrations decreased in more saline waters, the calculated photochemical half-life of microcystin decreased 6-fold with increasing salinity along a freshwater-estuarine transect due to the halide-associated increase in quantum yield. Modeling of microcystin photodegradation along this transect indicated that the time scale for RHS-mediated microcystin photodegradation is comparable to the time scale of transport. Microcystin concentrations decline by 98% along the transect when considering photodegradation by RHS, but only by 54% if this pathway were ignored. These results suggest the importance of considering RHS-mediated photodegradation in future models of microcystin fate in freshwater-estuarine systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8505-8513
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2016


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