IMDEA Water Institute

Toxic cyanobacteria detection in fresh water reservoir

Posted by IMDEA Water InstituteResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Spain

Summary of the technology

Cyanobacteria constitute a diverse group of bacteria existing almost everywhere on the globe. They are important players in global nutrient cycles and have wide-ranging biotechnological and medical applications. Nevertheless, some cyanobacteria produce toxins. Blooms (large aggregates accumulated on or near water surfaces) of toxic cyanobacteria, especially those developing in water bodies used for drinking purposes, concern environmentalists and policy makers worldwide due to their environmental, economical, and public health implications.
In Spain, cyanobacteria grow in major Spanish rivers and reservoirs. Blooms develop at least once a year in some of these reservoirs and include species that produce a potent liver toxin - Microcystins.
At IMDEA-Agua, we are experts on cyanobacteria physiology and toxin production in fresh water reservoirs and we are developing cutting-edge tools to monitor toxic cyanobacteria blooms.

Description of the technology

Currently, we are focused on two technological lines:

  1. Developing technology for the efficient and low-cost removal of microcystins during water treatment.
  2. Designing and tailoring monitoring programmes for the control of toxic cyanobacteria blooms in reservoirs.

Moreover, we have facilities for measuring microcystins using LC-QTOF-MS/MS, HPLC-UV and to detect potential microcystins-producing cyanobacteria using qPCR.


  • Potabilization and water purification companies; water supply companies
  • Water resource managers
  • Business related to recreational use of water in reservoirs and lakes
  • Animal husbandry
  • Hydroelectric companies

Related keywords

  • Metering and monitoring
  • removal
  • detection
  • water
  • microcystins
  • cyanobacteria blooms
  • habs
  • cyanohabs

About IMDEA Water Institute

Research & Technology Organization from Spain

IMDEA Water, a research Institute focused on water management issues, is directed towards optimizing public and private decision-making processes, emphasizing on the link between water, public services, the economy and institutions. The scientific program of the Institute is based on the development of strategic lines for the integrated water management: management of sustainable bodies of water, quality pollution, water treatment and reuse and economic and institutional analysis.
The institute is equipped with high-level up-to-date specialized laboratories as: water, soils, geomatic, ecotoxicology and water biology labs, and pilot plants (mesocosms, microbial electrochemical technologies, land application systems and membranes technologies) for conducting the research activities.

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