Microbial Ecology

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 85–95 | Cite as

Microbial Community Changes Elicited by Exposure to Cyanobacterial Allelochemicals

  • Pedro N. Leão
  • Vitor Ramos
  • Micaela Vale
  • João P. Machado
  • Vitor M. Vasconcelos
Environmental Microbiology


An increasing body of evidence points out that allelopathy may be an important process shaping microbial communities in aquatic ecosystems. Cyanobacteria have well-documented allelopathic properties, mainly derived from the evaluation of the activity of allelopathic extracts or pure compounds towards monocultures of selected target microorganisms. Consequently, little is known regarding the community dynamics of microorganisms associated with allelopathic interactions. In this laboratory-based study, a Microcystis spp.-dominated microbial community from a freshwater lake was exposed, for 15 days, to exudates from the cyanobacterium Oscillatoria sp. strain LEGE 05292 in laboratory conditions. This cyanobacterium is known to produce the allelochemicals portoamides, which were among the exuded compounds. The community composition was followed (by means of polymerase chain reaction followed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and microscopic analyses) and compared to that of a non-exposed situation. Following exposure, clear differences in the community structure were observed, in particular for cyanobacteria and unicellular eukaryotic taxa. Interestingly, distinct Microcystis genotypes present in the community were differentially impacted by the exposure, highlighting the fine-scale dynamics elicited by the exudates. These results support a role for cyanobacterial allelochemicals in the structuring of aquatic microbial communities.


Phytoplankton Synedra DGGE Band Allelopathic Activity Allelopathic Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was partially supported by a grant (SFRH/BD/28771/2006) to PNL from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

Supplementary material

248_2011_9939_MOESM1_ESM.doc (149 kb)
Table S1 Microscopy counts of phytoplankton in control and exposed flasks (N = 4) throughout the exposure experiment. Average and standard deviation (stdev) values are shown as cells⋅mL−1. (DOC 149 kb)
248_2011_9939_Fig5_ESM.jpg (270 kb)
Figure S1

DGGE gels obtained with 16S-EU, 16S-CYA and 18S amplicons. For each gel, loaded (from left to right) correspond to: marker, DO control (×2), DO treatment (×2), D6 control (×2), D6 exposed (×2), D15 control (×2), D15 exposed (×2). Boxes in dicate gel sections depicted in Fig. 3 (JPEG 270 kb)

248_2011_9939_MOESM2_ESM.tif (6.9 mb)
High-resolution image (TIFF 7024 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro N. Leão
    • 1
  • Vitor Ramos
    • 1
  • Micaela Vale
    • 1
  • João P. Machado
    • 1
  • Vitor M. Vasconcelos
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.CIIMAR/CIMAR-LA, Center for Marine and Environmental ResearchUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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