AME prepress abstract  -  DOI:

A Comparison of bacterial community structure, activity and microcystins associated with formation and breakdown of a cyanobacterial scum

Konstanze Steiner*, Susanna A. Wood, Jonathan Puddick, Ian Hawes, Daniel R. Dietrich, David P. Hamilton


ABSTRACT: Toxic cyanobacteria-dominated blooms are a global predicament and pose a health risk to humans and animals. These blooms harbor a diverse-range of heterotrophic bacteria which are involved in growth-promoting and decomposition processes. In the present study, we investigated microbial communities and microcystins in a lake cyanobacterial scum at a single point of time. The outer edges of the scum (ca. 500 cm from shore) were freshly formed, while those closest to the shore showed signs of cyanobacterial cell lysis and degradation. Samples were collected from five sites across the scum and from two separate bays. We hypothesized that cyanobacterial genera, bacterial communities and microcystin quota (toxin content per cell) would be significantly different (in the degrading scums) versus where the scum had freshly formed. Samples were analysed using 16S rRNA metabarcoding (DNA and RNA), and a range of physiochemical parameters were determined. Microcystis transcripts were more abundant than Dolichospermum in the breaking down scum suggesting they are better suited to tolerating the harsh physiochemical conditions encountered within scums. Multivariate analysis of operational taxonomic units (excluding cyanobacteria) showed significant differences in bacterial community structures across the scums. Proteobacteria was the most abundant phyla, among which Aeromonas, Caulobacter and Bevundimonas dominated. No relationships were observed between microcystin quotas and bacterial community structure or position in the scum.