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Programmed Cell Death-Like and Accompanying Release of Microcystin in Freshwater Bloom-Forming Cyanobacterium Microcystis: From Identification to Ecological Relevance

by Chenlin Hu 1,* and Piotr Rzymski 2,*
1
College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204, USA
2
Department of Environmental Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 60-806 Poznan, Poland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120706 (registering DOI)
Received: 14 November 2019 / Revised: 29 November 2019 / Accepted: 1 December 2019 / Published: 4 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Role of Cyanotoxins: Experimental and In-Field Evidence)
Microcystis is the most common freshwater bloom-forming cyanobacterium. Its massive blooms not only adversely affect the functionality of aquatic ecosystems, but are also associated with the production of microcystins (MCs), a group of potent toxins that become a threat to public health when cell-bound MCs are significantly released from the dying Microcystis into the water column. Managing Microcystis blooms thus requires sufficient knowledge regarding both the cell death modes and the release of toxins. Recently, more and more studies have demonstrated the occurrence of programmed cell death-like (or apoptosis-like) events in laboratory and field samples of Microcystis. Apoptosis is a genetically controlled process that is essential for the development and survival of metazoa; however, it has been gradually realized to be an existing phenomenon playing important ecological roles in unicellular microorganisms. Here, we review the current progress and the existing knowledge gap regarding apoptosis-like death in Microcystis. Specifically, we focus first on the tools utilized to characterize the apoptosis-related biochemical and morphological features in Microcystis. We further outline various stressful stimuli that trigger the occurrence of apoptosis and discuss the potential mechanisms of apoptosis in Microcystis. We then propose a conceptual model to describe the functional coupling of apoptosis and MC in Microcystis. This model could be useful for understanding both roles of MC and apoptosis in this species. Lastly, we conclude the review by highlighting the current knowledge gap and considering the direction of future research. Overall, this review provides a recent update with respect to the knowledge of apoptosis in Microcystis and also offers a guide for future investigations of its ecology and survival strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: cyanobacteria; Microcystis; programmed cell death; apoptosis; microcystin cyanobacteria; Microcystis; programmed cell death; apoptosis; microcystin
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Hu, C.; Rzymski, P. Programmed Cell Death-Like and Accompanying Release of Microcystin in Freshwater Bloom-Forming Cyanobacterium Microcystis: From Identification to Ecological Relevance. Toxins 2019, 11, 706.

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