Temporal and Spatial Trends in Toxic Cyanobacteria as Identified Through Lake Sediment DNA

Title: Temporal and Spatial Trends in Toxic Cyanobacteria as Identified Through Lake Sediment DNA
Authors: Pal, Shinjini
Date: 2015
Abstract: Cyanobacterial and algal blooms can negatively affect water quality particularly when producing toxins that affect human health and wildlife. While reports of blooms are on the rise globally, their underlying causes remain unclear. The goal of this thesis was to determine temporal changes in cyanobacterial abundance and composition through sediment cores in relation to (1) altered land-use leading to cultural eutrophication and (2) warmer air temperatures that have been recorded in the past few decades. This involved evaluating the use of DNA extracted from lake sediments to quantify cyanobacterial abundance and composition. Lake sediments preserved under appropriate storage conditions showed the potential to yield high quality DNA for downstream molecular applications. Cyanobacteria, quantified using the 16S rRNA gene, were found to have increased over the last three decades in comparison to historical averages (since the 1850s) both inside and outside a protected area in western Quebec, Canada, in concert with recent regional warming. Copy numbers of 16S rRNA genes specific to cyanobacteria largely correlated to temporal trends in cyanobacterial pigments. Larger percent increases were seen in cyanobacterial genes in recent times compared to changes in the eubacterial glutamine synthetase (glnA) gene. The mcyD gene was quantified as a proxy for microcystin production through sediment cores from two lakes of western Canada. Copy numbers of both mcyD and Microcystis 16S rRNA correlated with chemical analyses of microcystin through time in cores. Cyanobacteria in the more eutrophic of these lakes shifted toward less diverse assemblages and more toxigenic taxa in recent years. Lastly, temporal and spatial changes in cyanobacterial diversity were analyzed through pyrosequencing of cyanobacterial 16S rRNA along a latitudinal transect representative of northern Canada. Significant shifts towards less diverse assemblages were found, composed of potentially toxigenic strains, suggestive of climate warming in northern latitudes. These results support recent reports of increased abundance and geographic expansion of cyanobacteria and point to increases in cyanotoxins in some cases. Using DNA archived in sediments to determine the historical state of cyanobacterial abundance and diversity could help inform lake management policies.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/32196
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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