Diel Variation in Gene Expression of the CO2-Concentrating Mechanism during a Harmful Cyanobacterial Bloom

Giovanni Sandrini, Robert P. Tann, J. Merijn Schuurmans, Sebastiaan A. M. van Beusekom, Hans C. P. Matthijs, Jef Huisman

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Dense phytoplankton blooms in eutrophic waters often experience large daily fluctuations in environmental conditions. We investigated how this diel variation affects in situ gene expression of the CO2-concentrating mechanism (CCM) and other selected genes of the harmful cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa. Photosynthetic activity of the cyanobacterial bloom depleted the dissolved CO2 concentration, raised pH to 10, and caused large diel fluctuations in the bicarbonate and O2 concentration. The Microcystis population consisted of three Ci uptake genotypes that differed in the presence of the low-affinity and high-affinity bicarbonate uptake genes bicA and sbtA. Expression of the bicarbonate uptake genes bicA, sbtA, and cmpA (encoding a subunit of the high-affinity bicarbonate uptake system BCT1), the CCM transcriptional regulator gene ccmR and the photoprotection gene flv4 increased at first daylight and was negatively correlated with the bicarbonate concentration. In contrast, genes of the two CO2 uptake systems were constitutively expressed, whereas expression of the RuBisCO chaperone gene rbcX, the carboxysome gene ccmM, and the photoprotection gene isiA was highest at night and down-regulated during daytime. In total, our results show that the harmful cyanobacterium Microcystis is very responsive to the large diel variations in carbon and light availability often encountered in dense cyanobacterial blooms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number551
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2016


  • carbon dioxide
  • climate change
  • CO2-concentrating mechanism
  • gene expression
  • harmful algal blooms
  • lakes
  • Microcystis aeruginosa
  • national


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