Chitosan has been tested as a coagulant to remove cyanobacterial nuisance. While its coagulation efficiency is well studied, little is known about its effect on the viability of the cyanobacterial cells. This study aimed to test eight strains of the most frequent bloom-forming cyanobacterium, Microcystis aeruginosa
, exposed to a realistic concentration range of chitosan used in lake restoration management (0 to 8 mg chitosan L−1
). We found that after 1 h of contact with chitosan, in seven of the eight strains tested, photosystem II efficiency was decreased, and after 24 h, all the strains tested were affected. EC50
values varied from 0.47 to > 8 mg chitosan L-1
between the strains, which might be related to the amount of extracellular polymeric substances. Nucleic acid staining (Sytox-Green®
) illustrated the loss of membrane integrity in all the strains tested, and subsequent leakage of pigments was observed, as well as the release of intracellular microcystin. Our results indicate that strain variability hampers generalization about species response to chitosan exposure. Hence, when used as a coagulant to manage cyanobacterial nuisance, chitosan should be first tested on the natural site-specific biota on cyanobacteria removal efficiency, as well as on cell integrity aspects.
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