Algal blooms in eutrophic lakes have been regarded by some as primarily an aesthetic nuisance for recreational and drinking water uses despite well documented incidents of livestock and wildlife poisoning attributed to cyanobacterial toxins. A survey was conducted of three eutrophic, water supply lakes and eight rural dugouts experiencing cyanobacterial blooms. Biomass was characterized for dominant cyanobacterial genera and analyses were conducted for the hepatotoxins, microcystin LR and RR and the neurotoxin, anatoxin-a.
Some water samples collected simultaneously were screened for geosmin, 2-methylisoborneol and β-cyclocitral. Results showed that microcystin LR (LD50 of 50 µg/kg in mice) was present in concentrations up to 500 µg/g of algal biomass and microcystin LR levels were generally related to the proportion of Microcystis in the collected algal biomass. There was no relationship between the presence of microcystin LR and the presence of any of the odour compounds. Consequently, cyanobacterial odour-causing compounds in water did not provide reliable warning of the presence of the microcystin LR in these cyanobacterial blooms.