ISSN 10214437, Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, 2013, Vol. 60, No. 4, pp. 507–510. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2013.
Original Russian Text © E.A. Butakova, 2013, published in Fiziologiya Rastenii, 2013, Vol. 60, No. 4, pp. 537–540.
Anthropogenic transformation of phytoplankton
communities of fresh water reservoirs in the majority
of cases leads to the fact that one or more species of
cyanobacteria actively develop and replace algae from
other taxonomic groups. Cyanobacteria, having the
opportunity of preferential development, create a
large biomass (socalled “water blooming”). One of
the consequences of their development is the emer
gence in the water of extraneous taste and odor, which
reduce the consumer properties of water when the
water reservoir is used as a source of drinking water.
The emergence of unpleasant water odor during
the mass development of cyanobacteria is not such a
simple phenomenon as it may seem at first glance.
First, this phenomenon may be episodic (“taste and
odor episodes”). Frequently, the emergence of odor is
impossible to predict even in the reservoirs with regu
lar annual blooming. At the same time, the problem is
rather actual: for example, in Moscow such episodes
were recorded in autumn 1999 and spring 2000, in
Izhevsk—in 2003 , in Yekaterinburg—in 2008 ,
in Kachkanar—in 2010 (unpublished data). Accord
ing to the electronic media, strong extraneous odors in
drinking water were recorded in 2011 in Snezhinsk, in
2012 in Khabarovsk, whereas in Novokuznetsk
unpleasant odor was noted in 2010 not in drinking but
in hot water. From the standpoint of water treatment,
the episodic character of this phenomenon makes it
impractical the introduction of any technological
solutions of its preventing; therefore, the problem of
seasonal water quality deterioration is essentially
It should be noted that the intensity of odor may not
be related to the intensity of blooming , although, at
laboratory cyanobacterial cell growing, the odor is
present during all stages of culture growth .
The emergence of odor is related to the presence in
water of specific organic compounds of biogenic ori
gin, socalled odor compounds. Not only cyanobacte
ria but also some eukaryotic algae and actinomycetes
can produce these compounds. Nevertheless, cyano
bacteria are believed to be the main source of odor
compounds in the surface waters . The most well
known and most frequently met odor compounds are
geosmin and 2methylisoborneol (2MIB) (Fig. 1),
although some other compounds may be the source of
water odor [1, 5].
Taking into account that odor compounds are the
metabolic products of not only cyanobacteria, when the
content of these compounds in the cultures and their
secretion by cyanobacteria are analyzed, the possible
presence of actinomycetes should be controlled .
Geosmin and 2MIB are cyclic tertiary alcohols of
terpene nature (geosmin is an irregular sesquiterpene
and 2MIB is a monoterpene). Both compounds have
stereoisomers, and only (–)enantiomers are synthe
sized in nature; their action is tenfold more efficient .
Odorcausing compounds have a very low detec
tion limit by the sense organs (“extraordinary effec
tiveness of low concentrations of these substances”):
for example, the smell of geosmin is felt at the level of
g/L, 2MIB – 0.002–0.04 mg/L [7, 8].
Highly sensitive methods are required to detect these
compounds at the concentrations felt by the sense
organs. For this task, the most suitable is the gas chro
matography with massselective detection and liquid–
liquid extraction in sample preparation [1, 8]. How
Specific Features of OdorCausing Compounds
(Geosmin and 2Methylisoborneol) as Secondary Metabolites
E. A. Butakova
Russian Research Institute for Integrated Water Management and Protection, ul. Mira 23, Yekaterinburg, 620049 Russia;
Received October 29, 2012
—The data about the synthesis of odorcausing compounds by cyanobacteria and the impact of
these compounds on water properties are reviewed. The hypothesis is suggested on the possible relation of
production of these compounds to the regulation of the number of cyanobacteria in water reservoirs.
: cyanobacteria, geosmin, 2methylisoborneol, water blooming