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Water Res. 2013 Oct 1;47(15):5659-69. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.06.040. Epub 2013 Jul 2.

Differences in microcystin production and genotype composition among Microcystis colonies of different sizes in Lake Taihu.

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State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, PR China.


The cyanobacterium Microcystis, which occurs as colonies of different sizes under natural conditions, can produce toxic microcystins (MCs). To monitor the toxicity and assess the risk of Microcystis blooms in Lake Taihu, it is important to investigate the relationship between MC production and Microcystis colony size. In this study, we classified Microcystis collected from Zhushan Bay of Lake Taihu during blooms into four classes with size of <50 μm, 50-100 μm, 100-270 μm and >270 μm and studied their differences in MC production and genetic structure. The results showed that colonies with size of <50, 50-100, 100-270 and >270 μm produced 12.2 ± 11.2%, 19.5 ± 7.9%, 61.3 ± 12.6%, and 7.0 ± 9.6% of total MC, respectively. The proportion of cell density of colonies with size of 50-100, 100-270 and >270 μm was positively correlated with MC concentration during blooms, while that of colonies with size of <50 μm was negatively correlated. The MC cell quota tended to be higher during blooms in colonies with larger size except that of colonies with size of 100-270 μm was higher than that of colonies with size of >270 μm from June 11 to September 16. Colonies with size of <50 μm showed the highest proportion of the less toxic MC congener MC-RR, and colonies with size of >100 μm showed higher proportion of the most toxic MC congener MC-LR than colonies with size of <100 μm. Real-time PCR indicated that larger colonies had higher proportion of potential toxic genotype. Principal component analysis of PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profile showed that cpcBA and mcyJ genotype compositions were different between colonies with size of <50 μm and colonies with size of >50 μm, and cpcBA genotype composition was also different among colonies with size of 50-100 μm, 100-270 μm and >270 μm. These results indicated that MC cell quota and congener composition were different in Microcystis colonies with different sizes in Lake Taihu during blooms, and the differences in MC production in colonies with different size resulted chiefly from the difference in their genotype composition. Therefore, the authorities of water quality monitoring and drinking water supply service in Lake Taihu should be alert that the toxicity of Microcystis colony with different size was different during blooms, and the high abundance of colonies larger than 50 μm could be an indicator of relatively high bloom toxicity.


Bloom; Colony size; Genotype composition; Lake Taihu; Microcystin production; Microcystis

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