WIT Press

Bioindicators as a tool in environmental impact assessment: Cyanobacteria as a sentinel of pollution


Free (open access)


Volume 14 (2019), Issue 1



Page Range

1 - 8

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Roberta Teta, Germana Esposito, Marco Casazza, Christopher J. Zappa, Theodore A. Endreny, Alfonso Mangoni, Valeria Costantino, Massimiliano Lega


The correlation between stressors and bioindicators can provide evidence of environmental status both as an indication and monitoring tool, and in the identification of the pollutant source. cyanobacteria possess several hallmark traits of good bioindicators: physiological tolerances or ecological ranges of specific cyanobacterial species can differ depending on taxon-specific cellular requirements. In certain conditions cyanobacteria can form extensive blooms; this phenomenon arising from excessive nutrient input is usually of anthropogenic origin, resulting from a myriad of sources including point sources from municipal and industrial discharges, and non-point sources from agricultural run-off.

This work is integrated with the activities carried out within a wider research project aimed at (a) characterizing the role of cyanobacteria as a good bioindicator of coastal water quality, (b) advancing a hierarchical monitoring approach using space-borne remote sensing to in-situ sampling and laboratory microscope analysis of cyanobacteria, (c) reporting on the taxonomic analysis of the cyanobacterial community in the coastal waters of campania region in southern Italy, and (d) exploring the relationship of cyanobacteria with the terrestrial river basins draining to the coast.

In this study, the occurrence of specific cyanobacteria species in extremely polluted environment has been investigated. Specifically, the target point has been selected based on the discharge from the wastewater treatment plant in cuma, campania region (Italy). These analyses can support environmental impact studies by governmental officials regarding aquatic pollution problems e.g. determining the effectiveness of wastewater plants in preventing eutrophication impacts within specific coastal areas. 


bioindicators, cyanobacteria, cyanotoxin, early detection, environmental monitoring, impact assessment