Original paper

Microcystin-RR induces physiological stress and cell death in the cyanobacterium Aphanizomenon sp. DC01 isolated from Lake Dianchi, China

Hu, Zhiquan; Li, Dunhai; Xiao, Bo; Dauta, Alain; Liu, Yongding


The phytoplankton community in Lake Dianchi (Yunnan Province, Southwestern China) is dominated in April by a bloom of Aphanizomenon, that disappears suddenly and is displaced by a Microcystis bloom in May. The reasons for the rapid bloom disappearance phenomenon and the temporal variability in the composition of phytoplankton assemblages are poorly understood. Cell growth, ultrastructure and physiological changes were examined in cultures of Aphanizomenon sp. DC01 isolated from Lake Dianchi exposed to different doses of microcystin-RR (MC-RR) produced by the Microcystis bloom. MC-RR concentrations above 100 μg L−1 markedly inhibited the pigment (chlorophyll-a, phycocyanin) synthesis and caused an increase of soluble carbohydrate and protein contents and nitrate reductase activity of toxin-treated blue-green algae. A drastic reduction in photochemical efficiency of PSII (Fv/Fm) was also found. Morphological examinationn showed that the Aphanizomenon filaments disintegrated and the cells lysed gradually after 48 h of toxin exposure. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that cellular inclusions of stressed cells almost leaked out completely and the cell membranes were grossly damaged. These findings demonstrate the allelopathic activity of Microcystis aeruginosa inducing physiological stress and cell death of Aphanizomenon sp. DC01. Although the active concentrations of microcystin were rather high, we propose that microcystin may function as allelopathic substance due to inhomogeneous toxin concentrations close to Microcystis cells. Hence, it may play a role in species succession of Aphanizomenon and Microcystis in Lake Dianchi.


microcystin-rraphanizomenon sp. dc01physiological stresscell deathultrastructure