, Volume 592, Issue 1, pp 475–486 | Cite as

Comparative studies on physiological responses to phosphorus in two phenotypes of bloom-forming Microcystis

  • Hong Shen
  • Lirong SongEmail author
Primary Research Paper


Toxic Microcystis blooms frequently occur in eutrophic water bodies and exist in the form of colonial and unicellular cells. In order to understand the mechanism of Microcystis dominance in freshwater bodies, the physiological and biochemical responses of unicellular (4 strains) and colonial (4 strains) Microcystis strains to phosphorus (P) were comparatively studied. The two phenotype strains exhibit physiological differences mainly in terms of their response to low P concentrations. The growth of four unicellular and one small colonial Microcystis strain was significantly inhibited at a P concentration of 0.2 mg l−1; however, that of the large colonial Microcystis strains was not inhibited. The results of phosphate uptake experiments conducted using P-starved cells indicated that the colonial strains had a higher affinity for low levels of P. The unicellular strains consumed more P than the colonial strains. Alkaline phosphatase activity in the unicellular strains was significantly induced by low P concentrations. Under P-limited conditions, the oxygen evolution rate, F v/F m, and ETR max were lower in unicellular strains than in colonial strains. These findings may shed light on the mechanism by which colonial Microcystis strains have an advantage with regard to dominance and persistence in fluctuating P conditions.


Unicellular and colonial Microcystis Alkaline phosphatase activity Pi uptake Oxygen evolution activity Fv/Fm Maximum electron transport rate (ETRmax



This work was supported by grants from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Project (No.KZCX2-YW-426) and the National Key Project for Basic Research of China (No.2002CB412306).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of HydrobiologyChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanP. R. China
  2. 2.Graduate School of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingP. R. China

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