CyanoSol aims to develop sustainable solutions for algae related problems in the aquatic environment in parallel with the exploitation of their diverse biosynthetic capabilities.

CyanoSol 1Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) frequently form toxic blooms posing a serious risk to human and animal health.

The CyanoSol group are involved in internationally renowned research into the environmental impact and monitoring of these toxins and other problematic metabolites including taste and odour compounds. In addition the group is investigating all aspects of the natural ecology that influence their production and persistence. This work is primarily applied, with prevention and remediation being the key focus. CyanoSol pioneered both rapid, robust detection methods for cyanotoxins and treatment methods for their removal from drinking water supplies. The use of photocatalytic water treatment has been developed for use in the destruction of toxins and pathogens in water. This work is complemented by investigations into the mechanisms and optimisation of low cost biodegradation systems using aquatic bacteria. Other key areas of focus include the isolation, characterisation and development of high purity bio-active compounds from cyanobacteria through to the provision of fine bio-chemical reagents.  

Current Funded Projects

  • Production of bio-active compounds for research – Industrial
  • Removal of Taste and Odour in Aquaculture (EU)
  • Establishment of culturing methods to support ecotoxicological testing (KTP)
  • Bio-desalination: from cell to tap – EPSRC


  • Marine Biodiscovery, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen UK
  • Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) Redcar, UK
  • Potsdam University, Berlin, Germany
  • Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology (MCSB) of the University of Glasgow
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London
  • School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (CEG) at the University of Newcastle
  • Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South, DCNSW 1797, Australia
  • Department of Zoology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
  • The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, UK

CyanoSol Image 2

Expertise and Facilities

The group has a combined experience in excess of 50 years on the development, validation and implementation of novel and robust detection methods for important cyanobacterial metabolites and toxins. Our excellent analytical facilities include state of-the-art UHPLC (ultra high performance liquid chromatography) coupled with high resolution mass spectrometry, GC-MS, HPLC with various specialist detectors and NMR.

CyanoSol has excellent facilities for growth and downstream processing of cyanobacterial cultures included automated preparative HPLC.

Tissue culture and microbiology suites for determination of compound bioactivity, along with enzyme and invertebrate assays. Excellent facilities and expertise for molecular methods including the use microarrays, Northern, Western and Southern blotting, PCR, qPCR, RT-PCR and T-RFLP.

Find out more about our commercial services: CyanoSol's Services


  • Linda Lawton

    Professor Lawton has a specific interest in natural toxins produced in water by cyanobacteria.  

  • Deputy Director

  • Christine Edwards

    Dr Edwards is a Lecturer at the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences. Her research emphasis is in the area of cyanobacterial toxins, and their occurrence and fate in the environment.  

  • Research Staff

  • Radhakrishna Prabhu

    Radhakrishna Prabhu

    Dr Prabhu is a Reader in Electronic & Electrical Engineering and a researcher in Instrumentation & Sensors Current research areas are in Biosensors and Instrumentation, Environmental Sensing and Monitoring, Clean Technology.  

  • Kyari Yates

    Kyari Yates 1

    Dr Yates is an Academic Team Leader and Lecturer at the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences. His research interest lies in environmental chemistry with a particular emphasis on fate, distribution and effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and passive sampling methodologies in various matrices.  

  • Research Students

    Key References

    1. Schumacher, M., Wilson, N., Tabudravu, J.N., Edwards, C.,Lawton, L.A., Motti, C., Wright, A.D., Diederich, M. and Jaspars, M. (2011) New nodulopeptins from Nodularia spumigena KAC 66. Tetrahedron, 68, 1622-1628.
    2. Robertson, P.K.J., Bahnemann, D.W., Lawton, L.A.., Bellu, E., (2011) A study of the kinetic solvent isotope effect on the destruction of microcystin-LR and geosmin using TiO2 photocatalysis Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 108-109, 1-15.
    3. Edwards, C. and Lawton L.A. (2010) Assessment of microcystin purity using charged aerosol detection. Journal of Chromatography A, 1217, 5233–5238.
    4. Lawton, L.A., Chambers, H., Edwards, C.  Nwaopara, A.A and Healy (2010) Rapid detection of microcystins in cells and water. Toxicon, 55, 973-978.
    5. Graham, D., Kisch, H. Lawton, L.A., Robertson, P.K.J. (2010) The degradation of microcystin-LR using doped visible light absorbing photocatalysts. Chemosphere, 78, 1182-5.
    6. Manage, P.M., Edwards, C. Singh, B.K. Lawton, L.A. (2009) Isolation and Identification of Novel Microcystin-Degrading Bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75, 6924-6928.
    7. Manage, P.M., Edwards, C. Lawton, L.A. (2009) Biodegradation of microcystin-LR by natural bacterial populations. Interdisciplinary Studies on Environmental Chemistry, 277-285.
    8. Robertson, P.K.J., Black, K.D., Adams, M., Willis, K., Buchan, F., Orr, H., Lawton, L.A., McCullagh, C. (2009) A new generation of biocides for control of crustacea in fish farms. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, 95, 58-63.
    9. Liu, I., Lawton, L.A., Bahnemann, D.W., Liuc, L., Proft, B., Robertson, P.K.J. (2009) The photocatalytic decomposition of microcystin-LR using selected titanium dioxide materials. Chemosphere, 76, 549-553.
    10. Edwards C, Lawton L.A. (2009) bioremediation of cyanotoxins. Adv Appl Microbiol., 67,109-29.
    11. Bajpai, R., Sharma, N.K., Lawton, L.A., Edwards, C., Rai, A.K. (2009) Microcystin producing cyanobacterium Nostoc sp. BHU001 from a pond in India. Toxicon, 53, 587-590.
    12. Prakash, S., Lawton, L.A. and Edwards, C. (2009) Stability of toxigenic Microcystis Blooms. Harmful Algae, 8, 377-384.
    13. Peuthert, A., Lawton, L. and Pflugmacher, S. (2008) In vivo influence of cyanobacterial toxins on enzyme activity and gene expression of protein phosphatases in Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)Toxicon, 52, 84-90
    14. Edwards, C., Graham, D., Fowler, N. and Lawton, L.A. (2008) Biodegradation of microcystins and nodularin in freshwaters. Chemosphere, 73, 1315-1321.
    15. Bellu, E., Lawton, L.A.  and  Robertson, P.K.J. (2008) Photocatalytic Destruction of Geosmin Using Novel Pelleted Titanium Dioxide. Journal of Advanced Oxidation Technologies, 11, 384-388.
    16. Akin-Oriola, G.A. and Lawton, L.A.  (2007) Primary detection of cyanobacterial microcystins. Journal of Afrotropical Zoology, Special Issue, 21-24.
    17. Yates, K., Davies, I., Webster, L., Pollard, P.  Lawton, L., and Moffat, C. (2007) Passive sampling: partition coefficients for a silicone rubber reference phase. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 9, 1116-1121.   
    18. Jayatissa, L.P., Silva, E.I.L., McElhiney, J, and Lawton, L.A. (2006) Occurrence of toxigenic cyanobacterial blooms in freshwaters of Sri Lanka. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, 26, 156-164.
    19. Robertson, R.F., Hammond, A., Jauncey, K., Beveridge, M.C.M. and Lawton, L.A. (2006) An investigation into the occurrence of geosmin responsible for earthy-musty taints in UK farmed rainbow trout, Onchorhynchus mykiss. Aquaculture, 259, 153-163.
    20. Akin-Oriola, G.A. and Lawton, L.A.  (2006) The Detection and Quantification of Cyanobacterial Toxins in Water Using the Brine Shrimp (Artemia salina) Assay. West Africa Journal of Applied Ecology, 9, 16-18.
    21. Robertson, J. M.C, Robertson, P. K. J. and Lawton, L.A. (2005) A comparison of the effectiveness of TiO2 photocatalysis and UVA photolysis for the destruction of three pathogenic micro-organisms. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry, 175, 51-56.
    22. Liu, I., Lawton, L.A., Bahnemann, D.W. and Robertson, P.K.J. (2005) The photocatalytic destruction of the cyanotoxin, nodularin using TiO2. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 60, 245-252.
    23. Barco, M., Lawton, L.A., Rivera, J. and Caixach, J. (2005) Optimization of intracellular microcystin extraction for their subsequent analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography. Journal of Chromatography A. 1074, 23-30.
    24. Robertson, R.F., Jauncey, K., Beveridge, M.C.M. and Lawton, L.A. (2005) Depuration rates and the sensory threshold concentration of geosmin responsible for earthy-musty taint in rainbow trout, Onchorhynchus mykiss. Aquaculture, 245, 89-99.
    25. McElhiney, J. and Lawton, L.A. (2005) Detection of the cyanobacterial hepatotoxins microcystins.  Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 203, 219-230.
    26. Engelke, C.J., Lawton, L.A. and Jaspars, M. (2003) Elevated microcystin and nodularin levels in cyanobacteria growing in spent medium of Oscillatoria agardhii. Archive für Hydrobiologia, 158, 541-550.
    27. Liu, I., Lawton, L.A., and Robertson, P.K.J. (2003) Mechanistic studies of the photocatalytic oxidation of microcystin-LR: An investigation of by products of the decomposition process. Environmental Science and Technology, 37, 3214-3219.
    28. Lawton, L.A., Robertson, P.K.J., Robertson, R.F. and Bruce, F.G. (2003) The destruction of 2-methylisoborneol and geosmin using titanium dioxide photocatalysis. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 44, 9-13.
    29. Lawton, L.A., Robertson, P.K.J., Cornish, B.J.P.A., Marr, I.L. and Jaspars, M. (2003) Processes influencing surface interaction and photocatalytic destruction of microcystins on titanium dioxide photocatalysts. Journal of Catalysis, 213, 109-113.
    30. McElhiney, J., Drever, M. Lawton, L.A. and Porter, A.J.R. (2002) Rapid isolation of a single-chain antibody against the cyanobacterial toxin microcystin-LR by phage display and its use in the immunoaffinity concentration of microcystins from water. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68, 5288-5295.
    31. Liu, I., Lawton, L.A., Cornish, B. and Robertson, P.K.J. (2002) Mechanistic and toxicity studies of the photocatalytic oxidation of microcystin-LR. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry, 148, 349-354.
    32. Strachan, G., McElhiney, J., Drever, M.R., McIntosh, F. Lawton, L.A., Paton, G.I. and Porter, A.J.R. (2002) Rapid selection of antihapten antibodies from synthetic and semi-synthetic antibody phage display libraries. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 210, 257-261.
    33. Lawton, L.A. and Edwards, C. (2001) Purification of Microcystins. Journal of Chromatography A, 912, 191-209.
    34. McElhiney, J., Lawton, L.A. and Leifert, C. (2001) Investigations into the inhibitory effects of microcystins on plant growth, and toxicity of plant tissues following exposure. Toxicon, 39, 1411-1420.