Environmental Studies of Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms Should Include Interactions with the Dynamic Microbiome
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Environmental Studies of Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms Should Include Interactions with the Dynamic Microbiome

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  • Journal Title:
    Environmental Science & Technology
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    Biology is complicated. Nowhere might this be more true than in aquatic systems. Lakes, especially those in temperate regions, commonly undergo seasonal dynamics in the background of constant anthropogenic insult. Among the ecosystem level responses are cyanobacterial blooms (cHABs), which render water bodies unusable and potentially toxic. High-profile interruptions of access to potable water affecting >400 000 residents of Toledo, OH in 2014 and more than >2 000 000 residents of Wuxi, China in 2007 highlight this problem. (1) Indeed, global-scale observations report an increase in the size and frequency of cHABs on six of the seven continents. (2) While eutrophication is clearly a primary driving force, climate change, and invasive species are also factors. Ultimately, research into the specific drivers of cHABs continues to provide unclear, and often contradictory mechanisms of bloom formation: an example of this is the ongoing debate on the roles of nitrogen and phosphorus as bloom promoters. (3) Meanwhile, cyanobacteria continue to dominate large freshwater systems despite decades of nutrient control, albeit these controls have been largely phosphorus-focused. There is also tremendous focus on both the physiology and ecology of key cyanobacteria genera (e.g., Microcystis and Planktothrix) which produce the toxic secondary metabolite microcystin, a compound originally known as “Fast Death Factor”. (4) However, despite all efforts and tremendous progress, the picture remains complicated, with contradictions, for example, on the roles of pH, temperature, and viruses in constraining or promoting cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms or their production of toxin(s). (3) In addition, an important potential cause of variability in both lab and field experiments is frequently overlooked: the co-occurring microbes which numerically represent a majority of the microbial community.
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    Environmental Science & Technology (2021)
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