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Life (Basel). 2014 Dec 15;4(4):988-1012. doi: 10.3390/life4040988.

Mitigating harmful cyanobacterial blooms in a human- and climatically-impacted world.

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Institute of Marine Sciences, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557, USA.


Bloom-forming harmful cyanobacteria (CyanoHABs) are harmful from environmental, ecological and human health perspectives by outcompeting beneficial phytoplankton, creating low oxygen conditions (hypoxia, anoxia), and by producing cyanotoxins. Cyanobacterial genera exhibit optimal growth rates and bloom potentials at relatively high water temperatures; hence, global warming plays a key role in their expansion and persistence. CyanoHABs are regulated by synergistic effects of nutrient (nitrogen:N and phosphorus:P) supplies, light, temperature, vertical stratification, water residence times, and biotic interactions. In most instances, nutrient control strategies should focus on reducing both N and P inputs. Strategies based on physical, chemical (nutrient) and biological manipulations can be effective in reducing CyanoHABs; however, these strategies are largely confined to relatively small systems, and some are prone to ecological and environmental drawbacks, including enhancing release of cyanotoxins, disruption of planktonic and benthic communities and fisheries habitat. All strategies should consider and be adaptive to climatic variability and change in order to be effective for long-term control of CyanoHABs. Rising temperatures and greater hydrologic variability will increase growth rates and alter critical nutrient thresholds for CyanoHAB development; thus, nutrient reductions for bloom control may need to be more aggressively pursued in response to climatic changes globally.

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