An alternative method to quantify 2-MIB producing cyanobacteria in drinking water reservoirs: Method development and field applications

Environ Res. 2016 Nov;151:618-627. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.08.034. Epub 2016 Sep 5.


2-Methylisoborneol (2-MIB) is a commonly detected cyanobacterial odorant in drinking water sources in many countries. To provide safe and high-quality water, development of a monitoring method for the detection of 2-MIB-synthesis (mibC) genes is very important. In this study, new primers MIBS02F/R intended specifically for the mibC gene were developed and tested. Experimental results show that the MIBS02F/R primer set was able to capture 13 2-MIB producing cyanobacterial strains grown in the laboratory, and to effectively amplify the targeted DNA region from 17 2-MIB-producing cyanobacterial strains listed in the literature. The primers were further coupled with a TaqMan probe to detect 2-MIB producers in 29 drinking water reservoirs (DWRs). The results showed statistically significant correlations between mibC genes and 2-MIB concentrations for the data from each reservoir (R2=0.413-0.998; p<0.05), from all reservoirs in each of the three islands (R2=0.302-0.796; p<0.01), and from all data of the three islands (R2=0.473-0.479; p<0.01). The results demonstrate that the real-time PCR can be an alternative method to provide information to managers of reservoirs and water utilities facing 2-MIB-related incidents.

Keywords: 2-MIB-synthesis gene (mibC gene); 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB); Cyanobacteria; Real-time PCR; Taste and odor.

MeSH terms

  • Camphanes / analysis*
  • Camphanes / metabolism
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics
  • Cyanobacteria / growth & development*
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Drinking Water* / chemistry
  • Drinking Water* / microbiology
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Water Microbiology / standards*
  • Water Resources / supply & distribution*


  • Camphanes
  • Drinking Water
  • 2-methylisoborneol