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  1. Abstract

    Phosphorus (P) availability frequently limits primary production in lakes, influences the physiology of phytoplankton, shapes community structure, and can stimulate or constrain the formation of cyanobacterial blooms. Given the importance of P, numerous methods are available to assess P stress in phytoplankton communities. Marine phytoplankton are known to substitute sulfolipids for phospholipids in response to P limitation. We asked whether sulfolipid substitution might serve as an additional indicator of P stress in freshwater phytoplankton communities. The question was addressed using cultures ofMicrocystis aeruginosa, Lake Erie microcosms, and surveys of lipid profiles in Lake Erie during aMicrocystisspp. bloom. Peak area response ratios of the intact polar lipids sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol (SQDG) to phosphatidylglycerol (PG) were used as the metric of lipid substitution. In cultures ofM. aeruginosaNIES‐843, the SQDG : PG ratio increased from ~ 0.9 to ~ 3.3 with decreasing P concentration. In P‐limited communities, the SQDG : PG ratio increased from ~ 6 to ~ 11 after 48 h in microcosm controls, while P amendments reduced the ratio to ~ 3. In Lake Erie surveys, the SQDG : PG ratio ranged from ~ 0.4 to ~ 7.4 and was negatively correlated (Pearsonr = −0.62) with total dissolved P. The SQDG : PG ratio was not correlated with concentrations of chlorophylla, soluble reactive P, or N : P molar ratios. These results demonstrated thatM. aeruginosaandMicrocystis‐dominated communities remodel lipid profiles in response to P scarcity, providing a potential short‐term, time‐integrated biomarker of nutrient history and P stress in fresh waters.

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  2. 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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  3. Abstract

    Over the past two decades, scientific research on the connections between the health and resilience of marine ecosystems and human health, well‐being, and community prosperity has expanded and evolved into a distinct “metadiscipline” known as Oceans and Human Health (OHH), recognized by the scientific community as well as policy makers. OHH goals are diverse and seek to improve public health outcomes, promote sustainable use of aquatic systems and resources, and strengthen community resilience. OHH research has historically included some level of community outreach and partner involvement; however, the increasing disruption of aquatic environments and urgency of public health impacts calls for a more systematic approach to effectively identify and engage with community partners to achieve project goals and outcomes. Herein, we present a strategic framework developed collaboratively by community engagement personnel from the four recently established U.S. Centers for Oceans and Human Health (COHH). This framework supports researchers in defining levels of community engagement and in aligning partners, purpose, activities, and approaches intentionally in their community engagement efforts. Specifically, we describe: (a) a framework for a range of outreach and engagement approaches; (b) the need for identifying partners, purpose, activities, and approaches; and (c) the importance of making intentional alignment among them. Misalignment across these dimensions may lead to wasting time or resources, eroding public trust, or failing to achieve intended outcomes. We illustrate the framework with examples from current COHH case studies and conclude with future directions for strategic community engagement in OHH and other environmental health contexts.

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  4. 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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  5. Abstract

    Aseptic technique has historically served as a fundamental practice in microbiology, helping to maintain culture purity and integrity. This technique has been widely encouraged and employed for use with cultures of heterotrophic bacteria as well as freshwater and marine algae. Yet, recent observations have suggested that these approaches may bring their own influences. We observed variations in growth among replicate experimental cyanobacterial cultures upon flaming of the culture tube opening during sample transfer and collection. Investigation revealed the pH of culture media had decreased from the initial pH established during media preparation. Flaming of sterile culture media alone confirmed a significant decrease, by as much as 1.7 pH units, and correlated with increased flaming events over time. We hypothesized that the causative factor was the introduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the media. To test this hypothesis, qualitative and quantitative analyses were used to determine the primary driver of pH decline. We further assessed the direct effects of flaming and subsequent pH changes onMicrocystis aeruginosacultures, showing flame‐driven pH changes and/or the introduction of CO2influenced experimental results. Our observations provide a cautionary tale of how classic and well‐accepted approaches may have unintended consequences, suggesting new approaches may be necessary in research areas assessing pH or carbon‐related effects on microbial communities.

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  6. Summary

    The over‐enrichment of nitrogen (N) in the environment has contributed to severe and recurring harmful cyanobacterial blooms, especially by the non‐N2‐fixingMicrocystisspp. N chemical speciation influences cyanobacterial growth, persistence and the production of the hepatotoxin microcystin, but the physiological mechanisms to explain these observations remain unresolved. Stable‐labelled isotopes and metabolomics were employed to address the influence of nitrate, ammonium, and urea on cellular physiology and production of microcystins inMicrocystis aeruginosaNIES‐843. Global metabolic changes were driven by both N speciation and diel cycling. Tracing15N‐labelled nitrate, ammonium, and urea through the metabolome revealed N uptake, regardless of species, was linked to C assimilation. The production of amino acids, like arginine, and other N‐rich compounds corresponded with greater turnover of microcystins in cells grown on urea compared to nitrate and ammonium. However,15N was incorporated into microcystins from all N sources. The differences in N flux were attributed to the energetic efficiency of growth on each N source. While N in general plays an important role in sustaining biomass, these data show that N‐speciation induces physiological changes that culminate in differences in global metabolism, cellular microcystin quotas and congener composition.

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  7. Abstract

    Bacteria play key roles in the function and diversity of aquatic systems, but aside from study of specific bloom systems, little is known about the diversity or biogeography of bacteria associated with harmful cyanobacterial blooms (cyanoHABs). CyanoHAB species are known to shape bacterial community composition and to rely on functions provided by the associated bacteria, leading to the hypothesized cyanoHAB interactome, a coevolved community of synergistic and interacting bacteria species, each necessary for the success of the others. Here, we surveyed the microbiome associated withMicrocystis aeruginosaduring blooms in 12 lakes spanning four continents as an initial test of the hypothesizedMicrocystisinteractome. We predicted that microbiome composition and functional potential would be similar across blooms globally. Our results, as revealed by 16S rRNA sequence similarity, indicate thatM. aeruginosais cosmopolitan in lakes across a 280° longitudinal and 90° latitudinal gradient. The microbiome communities were represented by a wide range of operational taxonomic units and relative abundances. Highly abundant taxa were more related and shared across most sites and did not vary with geographic distance, thus, likeMicrocystis, revealing no evidence for dispersal limitation. High phylogenetic relatedness, both within and across lakes, indicates that microbiome bacteria with similar functional potential were associated with all blooms. WhileMicrocystisand the microbiome bacteria shared many genes, whole‐community metagenomic analysis revealed a suite of biochemical pathways that could be considered complementary. Our results demonstrate a high degree of similarity across globalMicrocystisblooms, thereby providing initial support for the hypothesizedMicrocystisinteractome.

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  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 12, 2024
  9. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024