Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Application of high resolution spectral fluorescence and ELISA to assess the removal of cyanobacteria and cyanobacterial toxins from water systems

Danielle Barrington and Anas Ghadouani

A paper describing this project was published in The Journal of Environmental Science and Technology and won a UWA Publications Prize in 2009.

Funding for this project was provided by the Water Corporation and the Australian Research Council.


Toxic cyanobacterial blooms are a major threat to the sustainability and safety of waterways worldwide. Hydrogen peroxide, an environmentally benign algicide, has been proposed for use as a cyanobacterial removal technique.

Response times for cyanobacteria and their toxins to hydrogen peroxide are of the order of minutes to hours, and hence assessment of the dynamics required data to be collected in realtime and at the highest resolution possible. The bbe-Moldaenke FluoroProbe was used to determine the photosynthetic activity of the samples. Cyanobacterial toxins were measured using an Abraxis PN 520011, Microcystins/Nodularins (ADDA) ELISA Kit, Microtiter Plate (96T).

The multi-spectral fluorescence study suggested that hydrogen peroxide is effective at reducing the biomass of algal communities within wastewater treatment ponds. Effective doses displayed a statistically significant exponential decay curve for chlorophyll a fluorescence, a proxy measurement of algal biomass. Analysis of the effects of hydrogen peroxide addition on intra- and extra-cellular cyanobacterial toxin concentrations is currently being performed using Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)