Cyanobacteria and microcystin in the Nebraska (USA) Sand Hills Lakes before and after modern agriculture

Aris A. Efting, Daniel D. Snow, Sherilyn C. Fritz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Chlorophyll a, zeaxanthin, and pheophytin a were measured from sediment core samples from three lakes (Dewey, Island, and Two Mile Lakes) in the Nebraska Sand Hills. Pigments were extracted and identified by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and used to estimate changes in the relative proportion of cyanobacteria to the algal community. The cyanobacterial toxins microcystin-LR and LA were extracted and measured using electrospray ionization liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). Microcystin-LR was found in core sections estimated to be as early as 1832, and was present in all three lake cores. Pigment and toxin data were used to determine if there were changes that occurred in the algal community structure with the onset of modernized agriculture in the region. No significant changes were found in the relative percent of cyanobacteria or chlorophyll a accumulation, indicating the frequency and intensity of cyanobacterial blooms has not changed over the last century. Despite this trend, there was a dramatic increase in microcystin-LR accumulation during the 1980s in Dewey Lake, which may be human induced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Algae
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Lake
  • Microcystin
  • Sediment
  • Toxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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