Analysis of the use of microcystin-contaminated water in the growth and nutritional quality of the root-vegetable, Daucus carota

J. Machado, J. Azevedo, M. Freitas, E. Pinto, A. Almeida, V. Vasconcelos, A. Campos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Toxic cyanobacterial blooms are often observed in freshwaters and may reflect the increased eutrophication of these environments and alterations in climate. Cyanotoxins, such as microcystins (MCs), are an effective threat to many life forms, ranging from plants to humans. Despite the research conducted to date on cyanotoxins, the risks associated to the use of contaminated water in agriculture require further elucidation. To tackle this aim, a research was conducted with the root-vegetable Daucus carota. The specific aims of this work were the following: (i) to evaluate the effects of MC-LR on the plant growth and photosynthesis; (ii) to evaluate the nutritional quality of carrot roots; and (iii) to measure bioaccumulation. To this purpose, young carrots were grown in soil during 1 month in natural conditions and exposed to Mycrocystis aeruginosa aqueous extracts containing environmentally realistic concentrations of MC-LR (10 and 50 MC-LR μg/L). The results showed that MC-LR may decrease root growth after 28 days of exposure to 50 μg/L and increase photosynthetic efficiency. We also observed changes in mineral and vitamin content in carrots as a result of the exposure to contaminated water. Moreover, MC-LR was detected in carrot roots by ELISA at very low concentration 5.23 ± 0.47 ng MC eq./g FW. The soil retained 52.7 % of the toxin potentially available for plants. This result could be attributed to MC-LR adsorption by soil particles or due to microbial degradation of the toxin. We conclude that the prolonged use of MC-LR-contaminated water may affect crop growth, alter the nutritional value of vegetable products, and potentiate contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-764
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyanobacteria
  • Daucus carota
  • Growth
  • Irrigation water
  • Microcystin-LR
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins


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