Establishing spatial and temporal patterns in Microcystis sediment seed stock viability and their relationship to subsequent bloom development in Western Lake Erie
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Establishing spatial and temporal patterns in Microcystis sediment seed stock viability and their relationship to subsequent bloom development in Western Lake Erie

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    This study assessed the distribution, abundance, and viability of pre- and post-overwintering Microcystis sediment seed stocks in Western Lake Erie and how these variables are potentially related to past and subsequent bloom formation. We conducted a two-year spatiotemporal survey of vegetative seed stocks in Western Lake Erie, the region where annual algal blooms generally develop. Sediment was collected from 16 sites covering an area of 375 km(2) and water column depths ranging from 3-9 meters. Sample collection occurred in November 2014, April 2015, November 2015, and April 2016. The abundance of total and potentially-toxic Microcystis cell equivalents were determined using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. A series of laboratory experiments using lake sediment were conducted to assess the viability of Microcystis vegetative seed stocks. Across all sampling periods, the abundance of total Microcystis in the sediment ranged from 6.6 x 10(4) to 1.7 x 10(9) cell equivalents g(-1), and potentially-toxic Microcystis ranged from 1.4 x 10(3) to 4.7 x 10(6) cell equivalents g(-1). The percent potentially-toxic Microcystis in the sediment ranged from <1% to 68% across all samples. Total Microcystis abundance diminished significantly over winter with densities in spring nearly 10 times less than the previous fall. However, despite cell loss from fall to spring, lab experiments demonstrated that remaining non-toxic and potentially-toxic cells were viable after the overwintering period. Further, lab grow-out experiments indicate that potentially-toxic strains recruited at a slightly higher rate than non-toxic strains, and may in part, contribute to the pattern of higher relative toxicity during early stages of the blooms. The abundance and distribution of overwintering cells did not correlate strongly to areas in the lake where subsequent summer blooms were most persistent. However, numerical analysis suggests that recruitment of benthic overwintering populations could help explain a portion of the initial rapid increase in bloom biomass and the spatial extent of this bloom initiation, particularly when recruitment is paired with subsequent growth in appropriate water column conditions.
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    PLOS ONE, 13(11), e0206821.
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    CC BY
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