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Microb Ecol. 2002 Jan;43(1):107-18. Epub 2001 Dec 7.

Diversity of microcystin genes within a population of the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis spp. in Lake Wannsee (Berlin, Germany).

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Federal Environmental Agency, Corrensplatz 1, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


In order to find out how many genotypes determine microcystin production of Microcystis spp. in field populations, single colonies (clones) were sampled from Lake Wannsee (Berlin, Germany), characterized morphologically, and subsequently analyzed by PCR for a region within the mcyB gene encoding the activation of one amino acid during microcystin biosynthesis. The different morphospecies varied considerably in the proportion of microcystin-producing genotypes. Most colonies (73%) of M. aeruginosa contained this gene whereas only 16% of the colonies assigned to M. ichthyoblabe and no colonies of M. wesenbergii gave a PCR product of the mcyB gene. Restriction fragment length polymorphism revealed seven restriction profiles showing low variability in nucleotide sequence within each restriction type (0.4-4%) and a low to high variability (1.6-38%) between restriction types. In addition, the sequences of amino acids within the mcyB gene were analyzed to compare the specificity of the amino acid activation during microcystin biosynthesis between restriction types and with the occurrence of amino acids in microcystin variants as detected by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Most of the microcystin-producing colonies showed high similarity in the sequence of amino acids and contained microcystin-LR (LR refers to leucine and arginine in the variable positions of the heptapeptide), microcystin-RR, and microcystin-YR, as well as other variants in minor concentrations. It is concluded that the gene product found for most of the microcystin-producing colonies in the lake is rather unspecific and the diversity of microcystin variants in the lake results from activation of various amino acids during microcystin biosynthesis in the same genotypes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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