Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 30, pp 30339–30347 | Cite as

Modelling the vertical migration of different-sized Microcystis colonies: coupling turbulent mixing and buoyancy regulation

  • Wei ZhuEmail author
  • Ganyu Feng
  • Huaimin Chen
  • Ruochen Wang
  • Yongqin Tan
  • Hongru Zhao
Research Article


Exceptional vertical migration ability provides the cyanobacterium Microcystis with competitive advantages in bloom formation and dominance establishment. Studies have been conducted on the vertical migration patterns of Microcystis since the 1970s; however, bloom simulations remain limited. Here, we used a simple model based on the viscous drag force of turbulence and analysed the motion characteristics of Microcystis colonies. The vertical distribution of turbulent kinetic energy (KZ), cell concentration and colony size profiles in Lake Taihu (Meiliang Bay and Gonghu Bay) and the critical vertical turbulent kinetic energy of colonies (TKZ, i.e. the anti-turbulence ability of colonies) were tested. The results showed that, under steady KZ profiles, colonies had relative rest positions (RRPs) where KZ ≈ TKZ and colonies of the same size gathered together. The vertical migration patterns were affected more by turbulence than by density (colony mass density) if the average KZ of the water column (MKZ) was not equal to TKZ. If MKZ ≈ TKZ, the colonies could exhibit a diurnal pattern of sinking at noon and floating upwards before dawn without steady RRPs. Our results suggest that studies on RRPs may offer optimizations for bloom forecast and control in the future due to easier simulation of KZ profiles than that of flow fields.


Viscous drag force of turbulence Relative rest position Vertical migration Colony size Turbulent kinetic energy Microcystis 



The project was funded by the Program on Furtherance of Scientific Research of Japan, Fundament C [15K00630], the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant 51409216] and the Taihu Lake water pollution control special funds (Tenth Phase) scientific research topic [JSZC-G2016-198].


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EnvironmentHohai UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Integrated Regulation and Resource Development on Shallow Lakes, Ministry of Education, College of EnvironmentHohai UniversityNanjingChina

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