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Role of Environmental Factors and Toxic Genotypes in the Regulation of Microcystins-Producing Cyanobacterial Blooms


The aim of this study was to understand: (1) how environmental conditions can contribute to formation of Microcystis-dominated blooms in lowland, dam reservoirs in temperate climate—with the use of quantitative molecular monitoring, and (2) what is the role of toxic Microcystis genotypes in the bloom functioning. Monitoring of the Sulejow Reservoir in 2009 and 2010 in two sites Tresta (TR) and Bronislawow BR), which have different morphometry, showed that physicochemical conditions were always favorable for cyanobacterial bloom formation. In 2009, the average biomass of cyanobacteria reached 13 mg L−1 (TR) and 8 mg L−1 (BR), and in the second year, it decreased to approximately 1 mg L−1 (TR and BR). In turns, the mean number of toxic Microcystis genotypes in the total Microcystis reached 1 % in 2009, both in TR and BR, and in 2010, the number increased to 70 % in TR and 14 % in BR. Despite significant differences in the biomass of cyanobacteria in 2009 and 2010, the mean microcystins (MCs) concentration and toxicity stayed at a similar level of approximately 1 μg L−1. Statistical analysis indicated that water retention time was a factor that provided a significant difference between the two monitoring seasons and was considered a driver of the changes occurring in the Sulejow Reservoir. Hydrologic differences, which occurred between two studied years due to heavy flooding in Poland in 2010, influenced the decrease in number of Microcystis biomass by causing water disturbances and by lowering water temperature. Statistical analysis showed that Microcystis aeruginosa biomass and 16S rRNA gene copy number representing Microcystis genotypes in both years of monitoring could be predicted on the basis of total and dissolved phosphorus concentrations and water temperature. In present study, the number of mcyA gene copies representing toxic Microcystis genotypes could be predicted based on the biomass of M. aeruginosa. Moreover, MCs toxicity and concentration could be predicted on the basic of mcyA gene copy number and M. aeruginosa (biomass, 16S rRNA), respectively. Present findings may indicate that Microcystis can regulate the number of toxic genotypes, and in this way adjust the whole bloom to be able to produce MCs at the level which is necessary for its maintenance in the Sulejow Reservoir under stressful hydrological conditions.

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We would like to thank Dr Jussi Meriluoto from Åbo Academy (Turku, Finland) for providing the Microcystis aeruginosa strain PCC 7820. The study was financed by the National Science Centre N N305 096439. The authors would like to acknowledge the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, COST Action ES 1105 "CYANOCOST- Cyanobacterial blooms and toxins in water resources: Occurrence, impacts and management" for adding value to this study through networking and knowledge sharing with European experts and researchers in the field. The Sulejowski Reservoir is a part of the Polish National Long-Term Ecosystem Research Network and the European LTER site. It is also a monitoring and research site of the Life + EnvEurope Project LIFE08 ENV/IT/000339.

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Gągała, I., Izydorczyk, K., Jurczak, T. et al. Role of Environmental Factors and Toxic Genotypes in the Regulation of Microcystins-Producing Cyanobacterial Blooms. Microb Ecol 67, 465–479 (2014).

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  • Total Phosphorus
  • Gene Copy Number
  • Cyanobacterial Bloom
  • Cyanobacterial Biomass
  • Water Retention Time