Characterization of Microcystis morphotypes: Implications for colony formation and intraspecific variation

Zhipeng Duan (Corresponding author), Xiao Tan (Corresponding author), Keshab Parajuli, Danfeng Zhang, Yi Wang

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Groundworks on Microcystis colony formation and morphological variation are critical to understanding the whole eco-cycle of Microcystis blooms. In this study, we tested the cell adhesion effect, an important pathway for colony formation, among Microcystis colonies of different morphotypes, and examined the potential linkage between cell properties and morphological plasticity. Results showed that cell adhesion significantly contributed to the aggregation of Microcystis colonies, but such adhesion only occurred in colonies belonging to the same morphotype. This suggests that Microcystis cannot form large colonies through a direct adhesion effect among different morphotypes, possibly due to substantial differences in the chemical structures and compositions of their extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Cell functional features also varied substantially with morphotypes, implying high intraspecific variation in competitive and defensive strategies of Microcystis. Our results offer new insights into colony formation of Microcystis and substantiate the importance of fundamental chemical characteristics of EPS in determining the morphological plasticity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101701
JournalHarmful Algae
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • international
  • Cell features
  • EPS
  • Intraspecific variation
  • Colony formation
  • morphotypes


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