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Microb Ecol. 2002 May;43(4):443-54. Epub 2002 Apr 15.

Effect of nitrogen and phosphorus on growth of toxic and nontoxic Microcystis strains and on intracellular microcystin concentrations.

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  • 1Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, Division of Microbiology, Biocenter Viikki, FIN-00014 Helsinki University, Finland.


The growth and intracellular microcystin concentration of two hepatotoxic and two nontoxic axenic Microcystis strains were measured in batch cultures with variable nitrogen (0.84-84 mg L(-1)) and phosphorus (0.05-5.5 mg L(-1)) concentrations. Growth was estimated by measuring dry weight, optical density, chlorophyll a, and cellular protein concentration. Microcystin concentrations in cells and in culture medium were measured by HPLC analysis. Both nontoxic strains needed less nutrients for their growth at low nutrient concentrations. With high nutrient concentrations the toxic strains grew better than the nontoxic strains. Growth and intracellular microcystin concentration did not correlate in the hepatotoxic strains. Multivariate regression analysis together with mathematical modeling revealed a significant interactive effect of nitrogen and phosphorus, which partly explains the controversial results obtained in previous studies. In this study we have shown that variation of nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations influence the growth and the microcystin production of Microcystis strains and that the strains differ in their response to nutrients. High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in freshwaters may favor the growth of toxic Microcystis strains over nontoxic ones.

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