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The ecological stoichiometry of toxins produced by harmful cyanobacteria: an experimental test of the carbon-nutrient balance hypothesis


The ecological stoichiometry of toxins produced by harmful cyanobacteria: an experimental test of the carbon-nutrient balance hypothesis



Ecology Letters 12(12): 1326-1335



ISSN/ISBN: 1461-023X

PMID: 19754885

DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01383.x

The elemental composition of primary producers reflects the availability of light, carbon and nutrients in their environment. According to the carbon-nutrient balance hypothesis, this has implications for the production of secondary metabolites. To test this hypothesis, we investigated a family of toxins, known as microcystins, produced by harmful cyanobacteria. The strain Microcystis aeruginosa HUB 5-2-4, which produces several microcystin variants of different N:C stoichiometry, was cultured in chemostats supplied with various combinations of nitrate and CO(2). Excess supply of both nitrogen and carbon yielded high cellular N:C ratios accompanied by high cellular contents of total microcystin and the nitrogen-rich variant microcystin-RR. Comparable patterns were found in Microcystis-dominated lakes, where the relative microcystin-RR content increased with the seston N:C ratio. In total, our results are largely consistent with the carbon-nutrient balance hypothesis, and warn that a combination of rising CO(2) and nitrogen enrichment will affect the microcystin composition of harmful cyanobacteria.

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Accession: 056293981

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