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Aloysio da S. Ferrão Filho

ecotoxicologue, Brésil

Cyanobacteria are photossintetic procariotes that produce secundary metabolites named cyanotoxins. Cyanotoxins are classified in three main groups: the hepatotoxins, dermatotoxins and the neurotoxins. Many studies have shown that cynobacteria and their toxins exert deleterious effects in several aquatic organisms, such as acute (i.e. reduction in survivorship, feeding inhibition, paralysis) and chronic effects (i.e. reduction in growth and fecundity), besides biochemical and behavioral effects. As the main target of these toxins seem to be herbivorous zooplâncton, many research have foccused this link as the main route of cyanotoxins, showing indeed its potential for bioaccumulation in the food chain. However, the large variability found in results of many studies has lead to equivocal conclusions. Although the unequivocal evidence of deleterious effects of cyanobacteria and their toxins, the resistance of some zooplâncton species and the absence of effect of microcystins on Daphnia in some studies have lead to question the role of this toxin as a chemical defense mechanism against the zooplâncton grazing. Therefore, more studies are needed to clarify the role of cyanotoxins on aquatic organisms.