JCVI: Dinoflagellate-cyanobacterium Communication May Determine the Composition of Phytoplankton Assemblage In a Mesotrophic Lake
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Vardi, A., Schatz, D., Beeri, K., Motro, U., Sukenik, A., Levine, A., Kaplan, A.

Dinoflagellate-cyanobacterium Communication May Determine the Composition of Phytoplankton Assemblage In a Mesotrophic Lake

Curr Biol. 2002 Oct 15; 12(20): 1767-72.

PubMed Citation


The reasons for annual variability in the composition of phytoplankton assemblages are poorly understood but may include competition for resources and allelopathic interactions. We show that domination by the patch-forming dinoflagellate, Peridinium gatunense, or, alternatively, a bloom of a toxic cyanobacterium, Microcystis sp., in the Sea of Galilee may be accounted for by mutual density-dependent allelopathic interactions. Over the last 11 years, the abundance of these species in the lake displayed strong negative correlation. Laboratory experiments showed reciprocal, density-dependent, but nutrient-independent, inhibition of growth. Application of spent P. gatunense medium induced sedimentation and, subsequently, massive lysis of Microcystis cells within 24 hr, and sedimentation and lysis were concomitant with a large rise in the level of McyB, which is involved in toxin biosynthesis by Microcystis. P. gatunense responded to the presence of Microcystis by a species-specific pathway that involved a biphasic oxidative burst and activation of certain protein kinases. Blocking this recognition by MAP-kinase inhibitors abolished the biphasic oxidative burst and affected the fate (death or cell division) of the P. gatunense cells. We propose that patchy growth habits may confer enhanced defense capabilities, providing ecological advantages that compensate for the aggravated limitation of resources in the patch. Cross-talk via allelochemicals may explain the phytoplankton assemblage in the Sea of Galilee.

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