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Toxic or otherwise harmful algae and the built environment

: Hofbauer, Wolfgang Karl

Volltext urn:nbn:de:0011-n-6403567 (395 KByte PDF)
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Erstellt am: 14.9.2021

Toxins 13 (2021), Nr.7, Art. 465, 28 S.
ISSN: 2072-6651
Review, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IBP ()

This article gives a comprehensive overview on potentially harmful algae occurring in the built environment. Man-made structures provide diverse habitats where algae can grow, mainly aerophytic in nature. Literature reveals that algae that is potentially harmful to humans do occur in the anthropogenic environment in the air, on surfaces or in water bodies. Algae may negatively affect humans in different ways: they may be toxic, allergenic and pathogenic to humans or attack human structures. Toxin-producing alga are represented in the built environment mainly by bluegreen algae (Cyanoprokaryota). In special occasions, other toxic algae may also be involved. Greenalgae (Chlorophyta) found airborne or growing on man made surfaces may be allergenic whereas Cyanoprokaryota and other forms may not only be toxic but also allergenic. Pathogenicity is found only in a special group of algae, especially in the genus Prototheca. In addition, rare cases with infections due to algae with green chloroplasts are reported. Algal action may be involved in the biodeterioration of buildings and works of art, which is still discussed controversially. Whereas in many cases the disfigurement of surfaces and even the corrosion of materials is encountered, in other cases a protective effect on the materials is reported. A comprehensive list of 79 taxa of potentially harmful, airborne algae supplemented with their counterparts occurring in the built environment, is given. Due to global climate change, it is not unlikely that the built environment will suffer from more and higher amounts of harmful algal species in the future. Therefore, intensified research incomposition, ecophysiology and development of algal growth in the built environment is indicated.