Field methods in the study of toxic cyanobacterial blooms: results and insights from Lake Erie Research

  • Steven W Wilhelm
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 619)


Sound field methodologies are an essential prerequisite in the development of a basic understanding of toxic cyanobacteria blooms. Sample collection, on–site processing, storage and transportation, and subsequent analysis and documentation are all critically dependent on a sound field program that allows the researcher to construct, with minimal uncertainty, linkages between bloom events and cyanotoxin production with the ecology of the studied system. Since 1999, we have collected samples in Lake Erie as part of the MELEE (Microbial Ecology of the Lake Erie Ecosystem) and MERHAB–LGL (Monitoring Event Responses for Harmful Algal Blooms in the Lower Great Lakes) research programs to develop appropriate tools and refine methods necessary to characterize the ecology of the reoccurring cyanobacterial blooms in the systems. Satellite imagery, large ship expeditions, classical and novel molecular tools have been combined to provide insight into both the cyanobacteria responsible for these events as well as into some of the environmental cues that may facilitate the formation of toxic blooms. This information, as well new directions in cyano–specific monitoring will be presented to highlight needs for field program monitoring and/or researching toxic freshwater cyanobacteria.


Cyanobacterial Bloom Microcystis Aeruginosa Spirulina Platensis Toxic Cyanobacterium Synechococcus Elongatus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brittain SM, Wang J, Babcock–Jackson L, Carmichael WW, Rinehart KL, Culver DA (2000) Isolation and characterization of microcystins, cyclic heptapeptide hepatotoxins from a Lake Erie strain of Microcystis aeruginosa. Journal of Great Lakes Research 26:241–249Google Scholar
  2. Castenholz R (1992) Species usage, concept and evolution in the cyanobacteria (blue–green algae). Journal of Phycology 28:737–745CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chorus I, Bartram J (1999) Toxic cyanobacteria in water; a quide to their public health consequences, monitoring and management. E & FN Spon, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Dyble J, Paerl HW, Neilan BA (2002) Genetic Characterization of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii (Cyanobacteria) Isolates from Diverse Geographic Origins Based on nifH and cpcBA–IGS Nucleotide Sequence Analysis. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 68: 2567–2571PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Field C, Behrenfeld M, Randerson J, Falkowski P (1998) Primary production of the biosphere: integrating terrestrial and oceanic components. Science 281: 237–240PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hall TA (1999) BioEdit: a user–friendly biological sequence alignment editor and analysis program for Windows 95/98/NT. ( Nucl Acids Symp Ser 41: 95–98Google Scholar
  7. Kaebernick M, Neilan BA, Borner T, Dittman E (2000) Light and the transcriptional response of the microcystin biosynthesis gene cluster. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 66: 3387–3392PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Komárek J (1999) Coccoid and colonial cyanobacteria. In: J.D. Wehrm and R.G. Sheath (eds), Freshwater algae of North America: Ecology and Classification. Academic Press, New York, pp 59–116Google Scholar
  9. Kumar S, Tamura K, Nei M (1994) MEGA: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis software for microcomputers. Appl Biosci 10: 189–191PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Kurmayer R, Kutzenberger T (2003) Application of real–time PCR for quantification of microcystin genotypes in a population of the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis sp Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69: 6723—6730PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Layton AC, Muccini M, Ghosh MM, Sayler GS (1998) Construction of a bioluminescent reporter strain to detect polychlorinated biphenyls. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 64(12) 5023–5026 Notes: English ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Mioni CE, Howard AM, DeBruyn JM, Bright NG, Twiss MR, Applegate BM, Wilhelm SW (2003) Characterization and field trials of a bioluminescent bacterial reporter of iron bioavailability. Marine Chemistry 83: 31–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Neilan BA, Saker ML, Fastner J, Torokne A, Burns BP (2003) Phylogeography of the invasive cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii. Molecular Ecology 12:133–140PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nelissen B, Wilmotte A, Debaere R, Haes F, Vandepeer Y, Neefs JM, Dewachter R (1992) Phylogenetic study of cyanobacteria on the basis of 16s ribosomal RNA sequences. Belg J Bot 125:210–213Google Scholar
  15. Nonneman D, Zimba PA (2002) A PCR–based test to assess the potential for microcystin occurrence in channel catfish production ponds. Journal of Phycology 38: 230–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nubel U, GarciaPichel F, Muyzer G (1997) PCR primers to amplify 16S rRNA genes from cyanobacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 63(8) 3327–3332PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Ouellette AJA, Handy SM, Wilhelm SW (2005) Toxic Microcystis is widespread in Lake Erie: PCR detection of toxin genes and molecular characterization of associated microbial communities. Microbial Ecology in pressGoogle Scholar
  18. Ouellette AJA, Wilhelm SW (2003) Toxic cyanobacteria: the evolving molecular toolbox. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7:359–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rinta–Kanto JM, Ouellette AJA, Twiss MR, Boyer GL, Bridgeman TB, Wilhelm SW (2005) Quantification of toxic Microcystis spp during the 2003 and 2004 blooms in Western Lake Erie. Environmental Science and Technology 39: 4198–4205PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Simpson ML, Sayler GS, Ripp S, Nivens DE, Applegate BM, Paulus MJ, Jellison GE Jr (1999) Bioluminescent bioreporter integrated circuits form novel whole–cell biosensors. Trends in Biotechnology 16: 332–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Urbach E, Robertson DL, Chisholm SW (1992) Multiple evolutionary origins of prochlorophytes within the cyanobacterial radiation. Nature 355:267–270PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Vaitomaa J, Rantala A, Halinen K, Rouhiainen L, Tallberg P, Mokelke L, Sivonen K (2003) Quantitative real–rime PCR for determination of Microcystin Synthetase E copy numbers for Microcsytis and Anabaena in Lakes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69: 7289–7297PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Vincent RK, Qin X, McKay RML, Miner J, Czajkowski K, Savino J, Bridgeman T (2004) Phycocyanin detection from LANDSAT TM data for mapping cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Erie. Remote Sensing of Environment 89:381–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Woese CR (2000) Interpreting the universal phylogenetic tree. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97: 8392–8396Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven W Wilhelm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyThe University of TennesseeKnoxville

Personalised recommendations