Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Response of cultured Microcystis aeruginosa from the Swan River, Australia, to elevated salt concentration and consequences for bloom and toxin management in estuaries

Philip T. Orr A D E , Gary J. Jones A C and Grant B. Douglas B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Land and Water, 120 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Qld 4068, Australia.

B CSIRO Land and Water, Centre for Environment and Life Sciences, Underwood Avenue, Floreat, WA 6014, Australia.

C Present address: CRC Freshwater Ecology, University of Canberra, Belconnen, ACT 2610, Australia.

D Present address: 3 Urmia Close, Westlake, Qld 4074, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: philip.orr@bigfoot.com

Marine and Freshwater Research 55(3) 277-283 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF03164
Submitted: 26 September 2003  Accepted: 12 March 2004   Published: 19 May 2004

Abstract

A mixed bloom of Microcystis aeruginosa forma aeruginosa and forma flos-aquae from the Swan River, Western Australia, was confirmed toxic by HPLC analysis. At least four, and possibly 11, microcystins were detected in cell-free extracts. Live bloom material was cultured at salt concentrations up to 21.2 g L–1 (total salts). The cultures were salt tolerant up to 9.8 g L–1. Reduction in the total cell concentration in the first 23 h was only observed in the highest salt treatment and first-order rate constants for cell lysis were higher than the rates for reduction of the intracellular microcystin pool size for that treatment. This suggests preferential lysis of genotypes with lower salinity tolerance and toxigenicity. This increased the toxicity of the mixed bloom population and the apparent microcystin cell quota without any change to the intracellular microcystin pool size. Therefore, the toxicity of bloom material may change through preferential lysis of cells with lower tolerances to changing environmental conditions, including salinity. Managers should be aware that the World Health Organization alert levels of 105 cells mL–1 for human contact exposure to cyanobacteria may not be a suitable prima facie test during these periods.

Extra keywords: cyanotoxins, high-performance liquid chromatography, HPLC, microcystin, Perth, toxicity.


Acknowledgments

The authors thank Ms Cheryl Orr for expert technical assistance in maintaining and sampling the cultures, for HPLC sample preparation and cell counting. We thank Dr Ingrid Chorus, Dr Susan Blackburn, and two unknown referees for reviewing our manuscript and suggesting useful changes. The Waters and Rivers Commission of Western Australia provided the financial support for this study. We thank them, and in particular Mr Malcolm Robb, for that support.


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