Effects of climate change on metabolite accumulation in freshwater and marine cyanobacteria


  • Toxin profiles of marine and freshwater cyanobacteria.
  • Metabolomics of two microcystin producers using orbitrap mass spectrometry.
  • Different responses of cyanobacteria to CO2 induced pH level changes.
  • Semi-continuous culturing and CO2 micro-adjustment.


Global climate change and anthropogenic nutrient inputs are responsible for increased frequency of cyanobacterial blooms that potentially contain 55 classes of bioactive metabolites. This study investigated the effects of CO2 availability and concomittant pH levels on two cyanobacteria that produce microcystins: a marine cf. Synechocystis sp. and a freshwater Microcystis aeruginosa. Cyanobacterial strains were semi-continuously cultured in mesotrophic growth media at pH 7.5, 7.8, 8.2, and 8.5 via a combination of CO2 addition and control of alkalinity. The cell concentration between treatments was not significantly different and nutrient availability was not limited. Concentration of most known cyanobacterial bioactive metabolites in both cyanobacterial strains increased as CO2 increased. At pH 7.8, bioactive metabolite intracellular concentration in M. aeruginosa and Synechocystis was 1.5 and 1.2 times greater than the other three treatments, respectively. Intracellular concentration of microginin in M. aeruginosa at pH 7.5 was reduced by 90% compared to the other three treatments. Intracellular concentration of microcyclamide-bistratamide B was lower in M. aeruginosa and higher in Synechocystis at elevated CO2 concentration. M. aeruginosa products were more diverse metabolites than Synechocystis. The diversity of accumulated metabolites in M. aeruginosa increased as CO2 increased, whereas the metabolite diversity in Synechocystis decreased as pH decreased. Overall, intracellular concentration of bioactive metabolites was higher at greater CO2 concentrations; marine and freshwater cyanobacteria had different allocation products when exposed to differing CO2 environments.

Huang I.-S., Hu X., Abdulla H. & Zimba P. V., 2021. Effects of climate change on metabolite accumulation in freshwater and marine cyanobacteria. Climate Change Ecology: 100018. doi: 10.1016/j.ecochg.2021.100018. Article.

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