Genetic characterization of Microcystis aeruginosa isolates from Portuguese freshwater systems

  • Cristiana Moreira
  • Vitor Vasconcelos
  • Agostinho AntunesEmail author
Original Paper


Cyanobacteria are microorganisms that pose a serious threat to the aquatic waterways through the production of dense blooms under eutrophic conditions and the release of toxic secondary metabolites—cyanotoxins. Within cyanobacteria, the colonial planktonic Microcystis aeruginosa is widely distributed in both fresh and brackish aquatic environments throughout the world being frequently observed in the Portuguese water systems. Apart from the well-established distribution of M. aeruginosa in Portugal, knowledge of its genetic diversity and population structure is unknown. Therefore, in this study twenty-seven strains were obtained from the North, Centre and South regions of Portugal and were subjected to extensive phylogenetic analyses using simultaneously four distinct genetic markers (16S rRNA, 16S-23S ITS, DNA gyrase subunit ß and cell division protein (ftsZ)) encompassing in total 2834 bp. With this work we characterized the phylogenetic relationship among the Portuguese strains, with the southern strains showing higher genetic structure relatively to the North and Centre strains. A total of fifteen genotypes were determined for M. aeruginosa in Portuguese water systems revealing a high genetic diversity. This is also the first study to report geographic variation on the population structure of the Portuguese M. aeruginosa.


M. aeruginosa Microcystins Multi-gene analysis and phylogeny 



The authors acknowledge the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) for the PhD fellowship to Cristiana Moreira (Ref. SFRH/BD/47164/2008). Agostinho Antunes was partially supported by the Strategic Funding UID/Multi/04423/2013 through national funds provided by FCT and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the framework of the program PT2020 and the FCT project PTDC/AAG-GLO/6887/2014.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristiana Moreira
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vitor Vasconcelos
    • 1
    • 2
  • Agostinho Antunes
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.CIIMAR/CIMAR, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental ResearchUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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