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PLoS One. 2015 May 6;10(5):e0125353. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125353. eCollection 2015.

Microcystin mcyA and mcyE Gene Abundances Are Not Appropriate Indicators of Microcystin Concentrations in Lakes.

Author information

1
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1415 Engineering Drive, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, United States of America.
2
Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1550 Linden Drive, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, United States of America.
3
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1415 Engineering Drive, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, United States of America; Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1550 Linden Drive, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, United States of America.

Abstract

Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) are a primary source of water quality degradation in eutrophic lakes. The occurrence of cyanoHABs is ubiquitous and expected to increase with current climate and land use change scenarios. However, it is currently unknown what environmental parameters are important for indicating the presence of cyanoHAB toxins making them difficult to predict or even monitor on time-scales relevant to protecting public health. Using qPCR, we aimed to quantify genes within the microcystin operon (mcy) to determine which cyanobacterial taxa, and what percentage of the total cyanobacterial community, were responsible for microcystin production in four eutrophic lakes. We targeted Microcystis-16S, mcyA, and Microcystis, Planktothrix, and Anabaena-specific mcyE genes. We also measured microcystins and several biological, chemical, and physical parameters--such as temperature, lake stability, nutrients, pigments and cyanobacterial community composition (CCC)--to search for possible correlations to gene copy abundance and MC production. All four lakes contained Microcystis-mcyE genes and high percentages of toxic Microcystis, suggesting Microcystis was the dominant microcystin producer. However, all genes were highly variable temporally, and in few cases, correlated with increased temperature and nutrients as the summer progressed. Interestingly, toxin gene abundances (and biomass indicators) were anti-correlated with microcystin in all lakes except the largest lake, Lake Mendota. Similarly, gene abundance and microcystins differentially correlated to CCC in all lakes. Thus, we conclude that the presence of microcystin genes are not a useful tool for eliciting an ecological role for toxins in the environment, nor are microcystin genes (e.g. DNA) a good indicator of toxins in the environment.

PMID:
25945933
PMCID:
PMC4422731
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0125353
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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