Response of Natural Cyanobacteria and Algae Assemblages to a Nutrient Pulse and Elevated Temperature

Abstract from a recent paper by Lurling et al., published in Frontiers in Microbiology.

“Eutrophication (nutrient over-enrichment) is the primary worldwide water quality issue often leading to nuisance cyanobacterial blooms. Climate change is predicted to cause further rise of cyanobacteria blooms as cyanobacteria can have a competitive advantage at elevated temperatures. We tested the hypothesis that simultaneous rise in nutrients and temperature will promote cyanobacteria more than a single increase in one of the two drivers. To this end, controlled experiments were run with seston from 39 different urban water bodies varying in trophic state from mesotrophic to hypertrophic. These experiments were carried out at two different temperatures, 20°C (ambient) and 25°C (warming scenario) with or without the addition of a surplus of nutrients (eutrophication scenario). To facilitate comparisons, we quantified the effect size of the different treatments, using cyanobacterial and algal chlorophyll a concentrations as a response variable. Cyanobacterial and algal chlorophyll a concentrations were determined with a PHYTO-PAM phytoplankton analyzer. Warming caused an 18% increase in cyanobacterial chlorophyll-a, while algal chlorophyll-a concentrations were on average 8% higher at 25°C than at 20°C. A nutrient pulse had a much stronger effect on chlorophyll-a concentrations than warming. Cyanobacterial chlorophyll-a concentrations in nutrient enriched incubations at 20 or 25°C were similar and 9 times higher than in the incubations without nutrient pulse. Likewise, algal chlorophyll-a concentrations were 6 times higher. The results of this study confirm that warming alone yields marginally higher cyanobacteria chlorophyll-a concentrations, yet that a pulse of additional nutrients is boosting blooms. The responses of seston originating from mesotrophic waters seemed less strong than those from eutrophic waters, which indicates that nutrient control strategies –catchment as well as in-system measures– could increase the resilience of surface waters to the negative effects of climate change.”

Reference:

Lürling Miquel, Mello Mariana Mendes e, van Oosterhout Frank, de Senerpont Domis Lisette, Marinho Marcelo M. (2018). Response of Natural Cyanobacteria and Algae Assemblages to a Nutrient Pulse and Elevated Temperature. Frontiers in Microbiology 9, 1851. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01851