Optical properties of Sicilian lakes during a Cyanophycea Planktothrix rubescens algal bloom

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In December 2006 blooms of Planktothrix rubescens were found in the reservoir Prizzi in Sicily. Planktothrix is a genus of filamentous alga comprising approximately 6 species, between these the P. rubescens is sadly famous since this organism produces microcystins which are powerful hepatotoxins.Firstly found in Europe in 1825 on Geneva lake, recently (2006) those algae has been find out in Pozzillo, Nicoletti e Ancipa reservoirs (Enna Province), as well as in Prizzi (Palermo Province) and Garcia reservoirs (Trapani Province).Toxins produced by those bacteria (usually called microcystine LR-1 and LR-2) are highly toxic since they can activate oncogenes cells causing cancer pathologies on liver and gastrointestinal tract. Even if water treatment plants should ensure the provision of safe drinking water from surface waters contaminated with those toxic algae blooms, the contamination of reservoirs used for civil and agricultural supply highlights human healthy risks. International literature suggests a threshold value of 0.01 gl-1 to avoid liver cancer using water coming from contaminated water bodies for a long period. Since Planktothrix rubescens activities is strongly related to phosphate and nitrogen compounds as well as to temperature and light transmission within water, the paper presents the comparison between optical properties of the water of an infested reservoir and those of a reservoir characterized by clear water. Field campaigns were carried out in February-March 2007 in order to quantify the spectral transparencies of two water bodies through the calculation of the diffuse attenuation coefficient, measuring underwater downwelling irradiance at different depths as well as water spectral reflectance.Results show that diffuse attenuation coefficient is reduced by approximately 15% reducing light penetration in the water column; coherently reflectance spectral signature generally decreases, exhibiting a characteristic peak around 703 nm not present in uncontaminated waters. Latter findings highlight the possibility to detect Planktothrix rubescens infestations using their spectral characteristics by means of multitemporal remote sensing techniques.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine8
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2009


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