Temperature and biotic factors influence bacterial communities associated with the cyanobacterium Microcystis sp.

Research paper by Claudia C Dziallas, Hans-Peter HP Grossart

Indexed on: 16 Apr '11Published on: 16 Apr '11Published in: Environmental Microbiology


Cyanobacterial blooms represent a nutritious niche for associated bacteria including potential pathogens for humans as well as livestock. We investigated bacterial community composition associated with Microcystis sp. using different approaches: batch experiments on Microcystis sp. or its enriched exudates, field enclosures (dialysis bags) and field sampling during natural blooms in freshwaters. Bacterial community composition associated with Microcystis sp. differed significantly with temperature, bacterial source community and number of incubated cyanobacterial strains. Interestingly, Actinobacteria of the AcI cluster were only present in the 20°C treatments and disappeared at higher incubation temperatures. Moreover, Archaea were present in all field samples but did not show any regional patterns, which is consistent with bacteria. Absence of Archaea in the experimental treatments indicates reduced growth under experimental conditions. In contrast, members of the genus Sphingomonas (Alphaproteobacteria), which includes species known as human pathogens, occurred in almost all samples. Thus Sphingomonadales seem to be an integral element of Microcystis sp. blooms - even affecting concentrations of microcystins as a result of their breakdown of the toxins. Depending on environmental conditions such as temperature, light, currents and nutrients, the role of heterotrophic Bacteria associated with Cyanobacteria can greatly vary by either increasing (pathogens) or decreasing (breakdown of toxins) health risks caused by mass developments of potentially toxic Cyanobacteria.