Seasonal morphological variability in an in situ Cyanobacteria monoculture: example from a persistent Cylindrospermopsis bloom in Lake Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico

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Owen Lind *
Laura Dávalos-Lind
Carlos López
Martin López
Juli Dyble Bressie
(*) Corresponding Author:
Owen Lind | owen_lind@baylor.edu

Abstract

The phrase cyanobacteria bloom implies a transient condition in which one to few species dominates communities. In this paper we describe a condition in which the bloom is of multi-year duration consisting of different morphologies of a single cyanobacteria species. Lake Catemaco, Veracruz, México maintained a year-round massive (108 trichomes L-1) population of potentially toxin-producing cyanobacteria, Cylindrospermopsis spp. The trichomes are present as straight and coiled morphotypes.  The relative trichome morphology abundance varied with rainy (June – October) and dry seasons (November – May), but total trichome abundance did not vary.  Coiled trichomes and heterocytes (occurring only on coiled trichomes) were significantly more abundant, both absolutely and relatively, during the dry season. Both coiled trichome and heterocyte mean volumes were significantly smaller during the rainy season than during the dry season.  Biovolumes were largest in January when water temperature was 5º C cooler suggesting buoyancy as a morphology-determining factor. However, with a more than three-fold lower TIN concentration during the dry season, we hypothesized that the coiled morphotype became abundant primarily because it formed heterocytes, which the straight morphotype did not. Spatial trichome and heterocyte abundance differences were small among the 15 lake sites (average CV for all dates = 20%). However, there was a pattern of increased heterocyte and coiled trichome abundance from lake inflow, as a nitrogen source, to outflow during the rainy season. The total volume of heterocytes per litre of lake water increased progressively four-fold from a minimum early in the rainy season to a maximum at the end of the dry season. Morphological diversity, as seen in Lake Catemaco, can partially compensate for the lack of species diversity in determination of community structure.


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