Advancements in Biological Strategies for Controlling Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)

Hassan Mohamad Anabtawi, Woo Hyoung Lee, Abdulaziz Al-Anazi, Mohamed Mostafa Mohamed, Ashraf Aly Hassan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a primary environmental concern, threatening freshwater ecosystems and public health and causing economic damages in the billions of dollars annually. These blooms, predominantly driven by phytoplankton species like cyanobacteria, thrive in nutrient-rich, warm, and low-wind environments. Because of the adverse impacts of HABs, this review examines various control methods, focusing on biological strategies as sustainable solutions. While effective in disrupting algal populations, traditional chemical and physical interventions carry ecological risks and can be resource-intensive. Biological control methods, including biomanipulation and using algicidal microorganisms such as Streptococcus thermophiles, Myxobacteria, and Lopharia spadicea, emerge as eco-friendly alternatives offering long-term benefits. Additionally, barley and rice straw application has demonstrated efficacy in curbing HAB growth. These biological approaches work by inhibiting algal proliferation, disrupting cellular structures, and fostering algal cell aggregation. Despite their advantages over conventional methods, biological controls face challenges, including intricate ecological interactions. This article delves into the latest biological techniques aimed at eradicating HABs, intending to diminish their frequency and reduce toxin levels in aquatic environments. While most research to date has been confined to laboratory settings, scaling these methods to field applications presents hurdles due to the variability and complexity of natural ecosystems. The review underscores the need for further research and development in this critical area of environmental science.

Original languageEnglish
Article number224
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • algicidal
  • biological methods
  • biomanipulation
  • chemical methods
  • eutrophication
  • freshwater ecosystems
  • harmful algal bloom
  • macrophytes
  • physical methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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