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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Apr;73(7):2173-9. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

Quantitative real-time PCR detection of toxic Nodularia cyanobacteria in the Baltic Sea.

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


A specific quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) method was developed for the quantification of hepatotoxin nodularin-producing Nodularia, one of the main bloom-forming cyanobacteria in the Baltic Sea. Specific PCR primers were designed for subunit F of the nodularin synthetase gene (ndaF), which encodes the NdaF subunit of the nodularin synthetase gene complex needed for nodularin production. The qPCR method was applied to water samples (a total of 120 samples) collected from the Baltic Sea in July 2004. As few as 30 ndaF gene copies ml(-1) of seawater could be detected, and thus, the method was very sensitive. The ndaF gene copy numbers and nodularin concentrations were shown to correlate in the Baltic seawater, indicating the constant production of nodularin by Nodularia. This qPCR method for the ndaF gene can be used for detailed studies of Nodularia blooms and their formation. ndaF gene copies and nodularin were detected mostly in the surface water but also in deeper water layers (down to 30 m). Toxic Nodularia blooms are not only horizontally but also vertically widely distributed, and thus, the Baltic fauna is extensively exposed to nodularin.

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