Direct Effects of Temperature on Growth of Different Tropical Phytoplankton Species


Temperature increase may influence competition among phytoplankton species, potentially intensifying cyanobacteria blooms that can be favored by direct and indirect effects of temperature. In this study, we aimed to clarify how cyanobacteria can be favored by the direct effects of increased temperature compared to diatoms and chlorophytes. Strains of the most representative species of a eutrophic coastal lagoon (Microcystis aeruginosa, Planktothrix agardhii, Desmodesmus communis, and Cyclotella meneghiniana) were used to test the hypothesis that cyanobacteria would be favored by the direct effect of temperature increase. First, we evaluated the effect of temperature increase on growth in monocultures (batch and chemostats) at 25 and 30 °C and after in mixed cultures (chemostats). In batch monocultures, the cyanobacteria showed higher growth rates in 30 °C than in 25 °C. However, in continuous culture experiments (chemostats), growth rates of M. aeruginosa and P. agardhii were not affected by temperature, but the strains showed higher biovolume in steady-state with the temperature increase. In continuous mixed cultures, M. aeruginosa was always dominant and C. meneghiniana was excluded, regardless of temperature tested. D. communis was able to coexist with lower biomass. This study shows that rising temperatures can be detrimental to diatoms, even for a tropical strain. Although some studies indicate that the dominance of cyanobacteria in warmer climates may be due to the indirect effect of warming that will promote physical conditions in the environment more favorable to cyanobacteria, the outcomes of mixed cultures demonstrate that the direct effect of temperature can also favor the dominance of cyanobacteria.

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Correspondence to Marcella C.B. Mesquita.

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Mesquita, M.C., Prestes, A.C.C., Gomes, A.M. et al. Direct Effects of Temperature on Growth of Different Tropical Phytoplankton Species. Microb Ecol 79, 1–11 (2020).

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  • Cyanobacteria
  • Interspecific variability
  • Batch cultures
  • Mixed cultures
  • Chemostats