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  1. Abstract

    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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  2. Abstract

    Climate warming in combination with nutrient enrichment can greatly promote phytoplankton proliferation and blooms in eutrophic waters. Lake Taihu, China, is a large, shallow and eutrophic system. Since 2007, this lake has experienced extensive nutrient input reductions aimed at controlling cyanobacterial blooms. However, intense cyanobacterial blooms have persisted through 2017 with a record‐setting bloom occurring in May 2017. Causal analysis suggested that this bloom was sygenerically driven by high external loading from flooding in 2016 in the Taihu catchment and a notable warmer winter during 2016/2017. High precipitation during 2016 was associated with a strong 2015/2016 El Niño in combination with the joint effects of Atlantic Multi‐decadal Oscillation (AMO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), while persistent warmth during 2016/2017 was strongly related to warm phases of AMO and PDO. The 2017 blooms elevated water column pH and led to dissolved oxygen depletion near the sediment, both of which mobilized phosphorus from the sediment to overlying water, further promoting cyanobacterial blooms. Our finding indicates that regional climate anomalies exacerbated eutrophication via a positive feedback mechanism, by intensifying internal nutrient cycling and aggravating cyanobacterial blooms. In light of global expansion of eutrophication and blooms, especially in large, shallow and eutrophic lakes, these regional effects of climate anomalies are nested within larger scale global warming predicted to continue in the foreseeable future.

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