Disaggregation of Microcystis aeruginosa colonies under turbulent mixing: laboratory experiments in a grid-stirred tank
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- O’Brien, K.R., Meyer, D.L., Waite, A.M. et al. Hydrobiologia (2004) 519: 143. doi:10.1023/B:HYDR.0000026501.02125.cf
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Samples of the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa from a small pond were used in laboratory experiments with a grid-stirred tank to quantify the effect of turbulent mixing on colony size. Turbulent dissipation in the tank was varied from 10−9 m2 s−3 to 10−4 m2 s−3, covering the range of turbulence intensities experienced by M. aeruginosa colonies in the field and exceeding the maximum dissipation by two orders of magnitude. Large colonies broke up into smaller colonies during the experiments; the mass fraction of colonies with diameter less than 200 μm increased over time. Colony disaggregation was observed to increase with turbulent dissipation. The maximum stable colony diameter across all experiments was in the range 220–420 μm. The overall change in size distribution during the experiments was relatively small, and the colony size distribution remained very broad throughout the experiments. Since colony size affects migration velocity, susceptibility to grazing and surface area to volume ratios, more work is needed to determine how to best represent this broad size distribution when modelling M. aeruginosa populations.