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Title: Heterotrophic Bacteria Dominate Catalase Expression during Microcystis Blooms
ABSTRACT In the oligotrophic oceans, key autotrophs depend on “helper” bacteria to reduce oxidative stress from hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) in the extracellular environment. H 2 O 2 is also a ubiquitous stressor in freshwaters, but the effects of H 2 O 2 on autotrophs and their interactions with bacteria are less well understood in freshwaters. Naturally occurring H 2 O 2 in freshwater systems is proposed to impact the proportion of microcystin-producing (toxic) and non-microcystin-producing (nontoxic) Microcystis in blooms, which influences toxin concentrations and human health impacts. However, how different strains of Microcystis respond to naturally occurring H 2 O 2 concentrations and the microbes responsible for H 2 O 2 decomposition in freshwater cyanobacterial blooms are unknown. To address these knowledge gaps, we used metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to track the presence and expression of genes for H 2 O 2 decomposition by microbes during a cyanobacterial bloom in western Lake Erie in the summer of 2014. katG encodes the key enzyme for decomposing extracellular H 2 O 2 but was absent in most Microcystis cells. katG transcript relative abundance was dominated by heterotrophic bacteria. In axenic Microcystis cultures, an H 2 O 2 scavenger (pyruvate) more » significantly improved growth rates of one toxic strain while other toxic and nontoxic strains were unaffected. These results indicate that heterotrophic bacteria play a key role in H 2 O 2 decomposition in Microcystis blooms and suggest that their activity may affect the fitness of some Microcystis strains and thus the strain composition of Microcystis blooms but not along a toxic versus nontoxic dichotomy. IMPORTANCE Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs) threaten freshwater ecosystems globally through the production of toxins. Toxin production by cyanobacterial species and strains during CHABs varies widely over time and space, but the ecological drivers of the succession of toxin-producing species remain unclear. Hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) is ubiquitous in natural waters, inhibits microbial growth, and may determine the relative proportions of Microcystis strains during blooms. However, the mechanisms and organismal interactions involved in H 2 O 2 decomposition are unexplored in CHABs. This study shows that some strains of bloom-forming freshwater cyanobacteria benefit from detoxification of H 2 O 2 by associated heterotrophic bacteria, which may impact bloom development. « less
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Nojiri, Hideaki
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Applied and Environmental Microbiology
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National Science Foundation
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