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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  2. 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 themore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  3. Miller, Todd (Ed.)
    Planktothrix agardhii is a filamentous cyanobacterial species that dominates harmful algal blooms in Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie and other freshwater basins across the world. P . agardhii isolates were obtained from early (June) blooms via single filament isolation; eight have been characterized from 2016, and 12 additional isolates have been characterized from 2018 for a total of 20 new cultures. These novel isolates were processed for genomic sequencing, where reads were used to generate scaffolds and contigs which were annotated with DIAMOND BLAST hit, Pfam, and GO. Analyses include whole genome alignment to generate phylogenetic trees and comparison of genetic rearrangements between isolates. Nitrogen acquisition and metabolism was compared across isolates. Secondary metabolite production was genetically explored including microcystins, two types of aeruginosin clusters, anabaenopeptins, cyanopeptolins, microviridins, and prenylagaramides. Two common and 4 unique CRISPR-cas islands were analyzed for similar sequences across all isolates and against the known Planktothri x-specific cyanophage, PaV-LD. Overall, the uniqueness of each genome from Planktothrix blooms sampled from the same site and at similar times belies the unexplored diversity of this genus.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 23, 2023
  4. Rokas, Antonis (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Previous reports suggest planktonic and under-ice winter microbial communities in Lake Erie are dominated by diatoms. Here, we report the assembled metatranscriptomes of 79 Lake Erie surface water microbial communities spanning both the winter (28 samples) and spring (51 samples) months over spatial, temporal, and climatic gradients in 2019 through 2020.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  5. A mechanistic, molecular-level model of a toxin-producing cyanobacterium explains ecology and informs management.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 27, 2023
  6. Rudi, Knut (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) degrade freshwater ecosystems globally. Microcystis aeruginosa often dominates cyanoHABs and produces microcystin (MC), a class of hepatotoxins that poses threats to human and animal health. Microcystin toxicity is influenced by distinct structural elements across a diversity of related molecules encoded by variant mcy operons. However, the composition and distribution of mcy operon variants in natural blooms remain poorly understood. Here, we characterized the variant composition of mcy genes in western Lake Erie Microcystis blooms from 2014 and 2018. Sampling was conducted across several spatial and temporal scales, including different bloom phases within 2014, extensive spatial coverage on the same day (2018), and frequent, autonomous sampling over a 2-week period (2018). Mapping of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequences to reference sequences revealed three Microcystis mcy genotypes: complete (all genes present [ mcyA–J ]), partial (truncated mcyA , complete mcyBC , and missing mcyD–J ), and absent (no mcy genes). We also detected two different variants of mcyB that may influence the production of microcystin congeners. The relative abundance of these genotypes was correlated with pH and nitrate concentrations. Metatranscriptomic analysis revealed that partial operons were, at times, the most abundant genotype and expressed in situ ,more »suggesting the potential biosynthesis of truncated products. Quantification of genetic divergence between genotypes suggests that the observed strains are the result of preexisting heterogeneity rather than de novo mutation during the sampling period. Overall, our results show that natural Microcystis populations contain several cooccurring mcy genotypes that dynamically shift in abundance spatiotemporally via strain succession and likely influence the observed diversity of the produced congeners. IMPORTANCE Cyanobacteria are responsible for producing microcystins (MCs), a class of potent and structurally diverse toxins, in freshwater systems around the world. While microcystins have been studied for over 50 years, the diversity of their chemical forms and how this variation is encoded at the genetic level remain poorly understood, especially within natural populations of cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs). Here, we leverage community DNA and RNA sequences to track shifts in mcy genes responsible for producing microcystin, uncovering the relative abundance, expression, and variation of these genes. We studied this phenomenon in western Lake Erie, which suffers annually from cyanoHAB events, with impacts on drinking water, recreation, tourism, and commercial fishing.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 10, 2023
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  9. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023