Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e25569. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025569. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Increasing oxygen radicals and water temperature select for toxic Microcystis sp.

Author information

Department of Limnology of Stratified Lakes, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Stechlin, Germany.


Pronounced rises in frequency of toxic cyanobacterial blooms are recently observed worldwide, particularly when temperatures increase. Different strains of cyanobacterial species vary in their potential to produce toxins but driving forces are still obscure. Our study examines effects of hydrogen peroxide on toxic and non-toxic (including a non-toxic mutant) strains of M. aeruginosa. Here we show that hydrogen peroxide diminishes chlorophyll a content and growth of cyanobacteria and that this reduction is significantly lower for toxic than for non-toxic strains. This indicates that microcystins protect from detrimental effects of oxygen radicals. Incubation of toxic and non-toxic strains of M. aeruginosa with other bacteria or without (axenic) at three temperatures (20, 26 and 32°C) reveals a shift toward toxic strains at higher temperatures. In parallel to increases in abundance of toxic (i.e. toxin gene possessing) strains and their actual toxin expression, concentrations of microcystins rise with temperature, when amounts of radicals are expected to be enhanced. Field samples from three continents support the influence of radicals and temperature on toxic potential of M. aeruginosa. Our results imply that global warming will significantly increase toxic potential and toxicity of cyanobacterial blooms which has strong implications for socio-economical assessments of global change.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center