A Systematic Investigation of Microcystin Accumulation in Vegetables under Agricultural Environments: Potential Effects on Crop Performance and Public Health Risk

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue


Microcystins (MCs), which are common cyanotoxins in fresh water, are produced in cyanobacterial blooms in eutrophic waters. MCs cause major water quality issues worldwide, and they have been widely studied due to their toxic health effects on humans and animals. Among the toxin exposure routes, exposure through food, especially fresh produce, has been understudied. MCs are stable, so in contaminated irrigation water and soil they can lead to toxin accumulation in crops. The objectives of this study were to investigate the fate of MC in different types of crops (lettuce, carrot, green bean) when irrigated with different levels of MC-LR. The crops were cultivated and exposed to different concentrations of MC-LR (1 μg/L, 5 μg/L, and 10 μg/L), either via drip irrigation around the root areas or spray irrigation, three times a week for four weeks. Samples were collected and homogenized with dry ice, and then the MC-LR was extracted using a methanol and filter method. The toxin level was measured with the MCs-ADDA ELISA assay. Our results demonstrated that the levels of accumulated MC-LR in crops were affected by irrigation type and were dose-dependent. Different type of crops had the different ability to adsorb the MC. Also, MC-LR had a negative impact on growth development of crops. Our results indicate that the remaining MC-LR has stay in the soil after harvest and the toxin may have negative impact on crop growth continuously. Thus, we suggest programs to monitor for the presence of MCs in irrigation water and crops, to protect public health.


Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (FAES): 2nd Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)


Microcystin, Lettuce, Carrot, Green bean, Fresh produce


Lee, S., Jiang, X., Manubolu, M., Riedl, K., Ludsin, S. A., Martin, J. F., & Lee, J. (2017). Fresh produce and their soils accumulate cyanotoxins from irrigation water: Implications for public health and food security. Food Research International, 102, 234-245