Co-occurrence of taste and odor compounds and cyanotoxins in cyanobacterial blooms: emerging risks to human health?

Maura Manganelli (Lead / Corresponding author), Emanuela Testai, Zakaria Tazart, Simona Scardala, Geoffrey A. Codd

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)
    40 Downloads (Pure)


    Cyanobacteria commonly form large blooms in waterbodies; they can produce cyanotoxins, with toxic effects on humans and animals, and volatile compounds, causing bad tastes and odors (T&O) at naturally occurring low concentrations. Notwithstanding the large amount of literature on either cyanotoxins or T&O, no review has focused on them at the same time. The present review critically evaluates the recent literature on cyanotoxins and T&O compounds (geosmin, 2-methylisoborneol, β-ionone and β-cyclocitral) to identify research gaps on harmful exposure of humans and animals to both metabolite classes. T&O and cyanotoxins production can be due to the same or common to different cyanobacterial species/strains, with the additional possibility of T&O production by non-cyanobacterial species. The few environmental studies on the co-occurrence of these two groups of metabolites are not sufficient to understand if and how they can co-vary, or influence each other, perhaps stimulating cyanotoxin production. Therefore, T&Os cannot reliably serve as early warning surrogates for cyanotoxins. The scarce data on T&O toxicity seem to indicate a low health risk (but the inhalation of β-cyclocitral deserves more study). However, no data are available on the effects of combined exposure to mixtures of cyanotoxins and T&O compounds and to combinations of T&O compounds; therefore, whether the co-occurrence of cyanotoxins and T&O compounds is a health issue remains an open question.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number872
    Number of pages35
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2023


    • cyanobacteria
    • geosmin
    • 2-methylisoborneol
    • β-ionone
    • β-cyclocitral
    • microcystins
    • cylindrospermopsins
    • neurotoxins
    • risk assessment
    • water treatment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Microbiology (medical)
    • Virology
    • Microbiology


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