Microbial community day-to-day dynamics during a spring algal bloom event in a tributary of Three Gorges Reservoir

Bingyuan Tan, Pengfei Hu, Xiaoxu Niu, Xing Zhang, Jiakun Liu, Thijs Frenken* (Corresponding author), Paul B. Hamilton* (Corresponding author), G. Douglas Haffner* (Corresponding author), S. Rao Chaganti* (Corresponding author), Amechi S. Nwankwegu, Lei Zhang* (Corresponding author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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The microbial food-loop is critical to energy flow in aquatic food webs. We tested the hypothesis that species composition and relative abundance in a microbial community would be modified by the development of toxic algal blooms either by enhanced carbon production or toxicity. This study tracked the response of the microbial community with respect to composition and relative abundance during a 7-day algal bloom event in the Three Gorges Reservoir in May 2018. Chlorophyll a biomass, microscopic identification and cell counting of algae and algal abundance (ind. L−1) and carbon, nutrient concentrations (total phosphorus and nitrogen, dissolved total phosphorus and nitrogen), and DNA high throughput sequencing were measured daily. Algal density (1.2 × 109 ind. L−1) and Chlorophyll a (219 μg L−1) peaked on May 20th–21st, when the phytoplankton community was dominated by Chlorella spp. and Microcystis spp. The concentrations of both dissolved total nitrogen and phosphorus declined during the bloom period. Based on DNA high throughput sequencing data, the relative abundance of eukaryotic phytoplankton, microzooplankton (20–200 μm), mesozooplankton (>200 μm), and fungal communities varied day by day while the prokaryotic community revealed a more consistent structure. Enhanced carbon production during the bloom was closely associated with increased heterotrophic microbial composition in both the prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities. A storm event, however, that caused surface cooling and deep mixing of the water column greatly modified the composition and relative abundance of species in the microbial loop. The high temporal variability and dynamics observed in this study suggest that many factors, and not just algal blooms, were interacting to determine the composition and relative abundance of species of the microbial loop.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156183
Pages (from-to)156183
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2022


  • Algal bloom
  • Aquatic microbial loop
  • Eukaryotes
  • Prokaryotes
  • Three Gorges Reservoir
  • Water quality and environmental factors


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