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  1. The environmental conditions experienced by microbial communities are rarely fully simulated in the laboratory. Researchers use experimental containers (“bottles”), where natural samples can be manipulated and evaluated. However, container-based methods are subject to “bottle effects”: changes that occur when enclosing the plankton community that are often times unexplained by standard measures like pigment and nutrient concentrations. We noted variability in a short-term, nutrient amendment experiment during a 2019 Lake Erie, Microcystis spp. bloom. We observed changes in heterotrophic bacteria activity (transcription) on a time-frame consistent with a response to experimental changes in nutrient availability, demonstrating how the often overlooked microbiome of cyanobacterial blooms can be altered. Samples processed at the time of collection (T0) contained abundant transcripts from Bacteroidetes, which reduced in abundance during incubation in all bottles, including controls. Significant biological variability in the expression of Microcystis -infecting phage was observed between replicates, with phosphate-amended treatments showing a 10-fold variation. The expression patterns of Microcystis -infecting phage were significantly correlated with ∼35% of Microcystis -specific functional genes and ∼45% of the cellular-metabolites measured across the entire microbial community, suggesting phage activity not only influenced Microcystis dynamics, but the biochemistry of the microbiome. Our observations demonstrate how natural heterogeneity amongmore »replicates can be harnessed to provide further insight on virus and host ecology.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 16, 2023
  2. Stewart, Frank J. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Raphidiopsis raciborskii and Planktothrix agardhii are filamentous, potentially toxin-producing cyanobacteria that form nuisance blooms in fresh waters. Here, we report high-quality metagenome-assembled genome sequences of R. raciborskii and P. agardhii collected from a bloom in Kissena Lake, New York.
  3. Microcystins produced during harmful cyanobacterial blooms are a public health concern. Although patterns are emerging, the environmental cues that stimulate production of microcystin remain confusing, hindering our ability to predict fluctuations in bloom toxicity. In earlier work, growth at cool temperatures relative to optimum (18°C vs. 26°C) was confirmed to increase microcystin quota in batch cultures of Microcystis aeruginosa NIES-843. Here, we tested this response in M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 using continuous cultures to examine temporal dynamics and using RNA-sequencing to investigate the physiological nature of the response. A temperature reduction from 26 to 19°C increased microcystin quota ∼2-fold, from an average of ∼464 ag μm –3 cell volume to ∼891 ag μm –3 over a 7–9 d period. Reverting the temperature to 26°C returned the cellular microcystin quota to ∼489 ag μm –3 . Long periods (31–42 d) at 19°C did not increase or decrease microcystin quota beyond that observed at 7–9 d. Nitrogen concentration had little effect on the overall response. RNA sequencing indicated that the decrease in temperature to 19°C induced a classic cold-stress response in M. aeruginosa PCC 7806, but this operated on a different timescale than the increased microcystin production. Microcystin quota showed a strongmore »48- to 72-h time-lag correlation to mcy gene expression, but no correlation to concurrent mcy expression. This work confirms an effect of temperature on microcystin quota and extends our understanding of the physiological nature of the response.« less
  4. Cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom (CyanoHAB) proliferation is a global problem impacting ecosystem and human health. Western Lake Erie (WLE) typically endures two highly toxic CyanoHABs during summer: a Microcystis spp. bloom in Maumee Bay that extends throughout the western basin, and a Planktothrix spp. bloom in Sandusky Bay. Recently, the USA and Canada agreed to a 40% phosphorus (P) load reduction to lessen the severity of the WLE blooms. To investigate phosphorus and nitrogen (N) limitation of biomass and toxin production in WLE CyanoHABs, we conducted in situ nutrient addition and 40% dilution microcosm bioassays in June and August 2019. During the June Sandusky Bay bloom, biomass production as well as hepatotoxic microcystin and neurotoxic anatoxin production were N and P co-limited with microcystin production becoming nutrient deplete under 40% dilution. During August, the Maumee Bay bloom produced microcystin under nutrient repletion with slight induced P limitation under 40% dilution, and the Sandusky Bay bloom produced anatoxin under N limitation in both dilution treatments. The results demonstrate the importance of nutrient limitation effects on microcystin and anatoxin production. To properly combat cyanotoxin and cyanobacterial biomass production in WLE, both N and P reduction efforts should be implemented in its watershed.
  5. The Maumee River is the primary source for nutrients fueling seasonal Microcystis-dominated blooms in western Lake Erie’s open waters though such blooms in the river are infrequent. The river also serves as source water for multiple public water systems and a large food services facility in northwest Ohio. On 20 September 2017, an unprecedented bloom was reported in the Maumee River estuary within the Toledo metropolitan area, which triggered a recreational water advisory. Here we (1) explore physical drivers likely contributing to the bloom’s occurrence, and (2) describe the toxin concentration and bacterioplankton taxonomic composition. A historical analysis using 10-years of seasonal river discharge, water level, and local wind data identified two instances when high-retention conditions occurred over ≥ 10 d in the Maumee River estuary: in 2016 and during the 2017 bloom. Observation by remote sensing imagery supported the advection of cyanobacterial cells into the estuary from the lake during 2017 and the lack of an estuary bloom in 2016 due to a weak cyanobacterial bloom in the lake. A rapid-response survey during the 2017 bloom determined levels of the cyanotoxins, specifically microcystins, in excess of recreational contact limits at sites within the lower 20 km of the rivermore »while amplicon sequencing found these sites were dominated by Microcystis. These results highlight the need to broaden our understanding of physical drivers of cyanobacterial blooms within the interface between riverine and lacustrine systems, particularly as such blooms are expected to become more prominent in response to a changing climate.« less