Eco-physiological adaptations that favour freshwater cyanobacteria in a changing climate

C.C. Carey, B.W. Ibelings, E.P. Hoffmann, D.P. Hamilton, J.D. Brookes

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Climate change scenarios predict that rivers, lakes, and reservoirs will experience increased temperatures, more intense and longer periods of thermal stratification, modified hydrology, and altered nutrient loading. These environmental drivers will have substantial effects on freshwater phytoplankton species composition and biomass, potentially favouring cyanobacteria over other phytoplankton. In this Review, we examine how several cyanobacterial eco-physiological traits, specifically, the ability to grow in warmer temperatures; buoyancy; high affinity for, and ability to store, phosphorus; nitrogen-fixation; akinete production; and efficient light harvesting, vary amongst cyanobacteria genera and may enable them to dominate in future climate scenarios. Variation in predicted climatic shifts will most likely interact with variation in cyanobacterial traits to create regional differences in which cyanobacterial taxa dominate. Finally, we suggest that physiological traits specific to different cyanobacterial taxa may favour certain taxa over others in different regions, but overall, cyanobacteria as a group are likely to increase in most regions in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1394-1407
JournalWater Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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