, Volume 700, Issue 1, pp 187–202

Growth response of Microcystis spp. to iron enrichment in different regions of Lake Taihu, China

Primary Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-012-1229-3

Cite this article as:
Xu, H., Zhu, G., Qin, B. et al. Hydrobiologia (2013) 700: 187. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1229-3


Iron (Fe) is an essential micronutrient for algal growth and can be a potential limiting nutrient in aquatic system, especially regions that exhibits nitrogen (N) limitation. Using short-term nutrient addition bioassays, we evaluated the potential role that iron might play in modifying the response of Microcystis spp. to the anthropogenic phosphorus (P) and N enrichment in hypereutrophic Lake Taihu, the third largest freshwater lake in China. Three nutrient enrichment experiments involving additions of N (as NO3) and P (as PO43−) with and without Fe were conducted during 2009–2010 in Meiliang Bay, a region characterized by summer cyanobacterial (Microcystis spp.) blooms, and East Taihu, a region largely free of cyanobacterial blooms and dominated by macrophytes. In Meiliang Bay, Fe addition alone did not significantly increase Microcystis spp. biomass. However, Fe addition occasionally increased the stimulatory effect of N and P additions on Microcystis spp., indicating that Fe was not a primary limiting nutrient for Microcystis spp. growth. Occasionally Fe was co-limiting with N and P in this region. In East Taihu, the addition of Fe alone significantly stimulated Microcystis spp. growth, while addition of N and/or P had no effects on growth, indicating that Fe was a primary limiting nutrient in East Taihu. The combined addition of Fe and N resulted in a growth response similar to Fe alone, while combined addition of Fe and P yielded greater biomass increases than the addition of Fe alone. This indicated that in East Taihu, N was not limiting and Fe and P supplies facilitated Microcystis spp. growth. These results reflect differential availabilities and limitations of N, P, and Fe in distinct regions of Taihu. The potential role of Fe in eutrophication dynamics of large, regionally complex lakes like Taihu requires further attention.


Lake TaihuCyanoHABsIronNitrogenPhosphorusMicrocystis spp.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hai Xu
    • 1
  • Guangwei Zhu
    • 1
  • Boqiang Qin
    • 1
  • Hans W. Paerl
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography & LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute of Marine SciencesMorehead CityUSA