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Title: Climate change and the aquatic continuum: A cyanobacterial comeback story

Billions of years ago, the Earth's waters were dominated by cyanobacteria. These microbes amassed to such formidable numbers, they ushered in a new era—starting with the Great Oxidation Event—fuelled by oxygenic photosynthesis. Throughout the following eon, cyanobacteria ceded portions of their global aerobic power to new photoautotrophs with the rise of eukaryotes (i.e. algae and higher plants), which co‐existed with cyanobacteria in aquatic ecosystems. Yet while cyanobacteria's ecological success story is one of the most notorious within our planet's biogeochemical history, scientists to this day still seek to unlock the secrets of their triumph. Now, the Anthropocene has ushered in a new era fuelled by excessive nutrient inputs and greenhouse gas emissions, which are again reshaping the Earth's biomes. In response, we are experiencing an increase in global cyanobacterial bloom distribution, duration, and frequency, leading to unbalanced, and in many instances degraded, ecosystems. A critical component of the cyanobacterial resurgence is the freshwater‐marine continuum: which serves to transport blooms, and the toxins they produce, on the premise that “water flows downhill”. Here, we identify drivers contributing to the cyanobacterial comeback and discuss future implications in the context of environmental and human health along the aquatic continuum. This Minireview addresses the overlooked problem of the freshwater to marine continuum and the effects of nutrients and toxic cyanobacterial blooms moving along these waters. Marine and freshwater research have historically been conducted in isolation and independently of one another. Yet, this approach fails to account for the interchangeable transit of nutrients and biology through and between these freshwater and marine systems, a phenomenon that is becoming a major problem around the globe. This Minireview highlights what we know and the challenges that lie ahead.

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Award ID(s):
1840715 2108917 1831096
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environmental Microbiology Reports
Medium: X Size: p. 3-12
p. 3-12
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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