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Production of Cyanotoxins by Microcystis aeruginosa Mediates Interactions with the Mixotrophic Flagellate Cryptomonas

Hancock Biological Station and Department of Biological Sciences, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2019, 11(4), 223;
Received: 20 March 2019 / Revised: 9 April 2019 / Accepted: 10 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Drivers of Algal and Cyanobacterial Toxin Dynamics)
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Eutrophication of inland waters is expected to increase the frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Toxin-production associated with HABs has negative effects on human health and aquatic ecosystem functioning. Despite evidence that flagellates can ingest toxin-producing cyanobacteria, interactions between members of the microbial loop are underestimated in our understanding of the food web and algal bloom dynamics. Physical and allelopathic interactions between a mixotrophic flagellate (Cryptomonas sp.) and two strains of a cyanobacteria (Microcystis aeruginosa) were investigated in a full-factorial experiment in culture. The maximum population growth rate of the mixotroph (0.25 day−1) occurred during incubation with filtrate from toxic M. aeruginosa. Cryptomonas was able to ingest toxic and non-toxic M. aeruginosa at maximal rates of 0.5 and 0.3 cells day−1, respectively. The results establish that although Cryptomonas does not derive benefits from co-incubation with M. aeruginosa, it may obtain nutritional supplement from filtrate. We also provide evidence of a reduction in cyanotoxin concentration (microcystin-LR) when toxic M. aeruginosa is incubated with the mixotroph. Our work has implications for “trophic upgrading” within the microbial food web, where cyanobacterivory by nanoflagellates may improve food quality for higher trophic levels and detoxify secondary compounds. View Full-Text
Keywords: microcystin; mixotrophy; phytoplankton; cyanobacterial blooms; Microcystis; trophic interactions microcystin; mixotrophy; phytoplankton; cyanobacterial blooms; Microcystis; trophic interactions

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Princiotta, S.D.; Hendricks, S.P.; White, D.S. Production of Cyanotoxins by Microcystis aeruginosa Mediates Interactions with the Mixotrophic Flagellate Cryptomonas. Toxins 2019, 11, 223.

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