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Metagenomic mapping of cyanobacteria and potential cyanotoxin producing taxa in large rivers of the United States

February 16, 2023

Cyanobacteria and cyanotoxin producing cyanobacterial blooms are a trending focus of current research. Many studies focus on bloom events in lentic environments such as lakes or ponds. Comparatively few studies have explored lotic environments and fewer still have examined the cyanobacterial communities and potential cyanotoxin producers during ambient, non-bloom conditions. Here we used a metagenomics-based approach to profile non-bloom microbial communities and cyanobacteria in 12 major U.S. rivers at multiple time points during the summer months of 2019. Our data show that U.S. rivers possess microbial communities that are taxonomically rich, yet largely consistent across geographic location and time. Within these communities, cyanobacteria often comprise significant portions and frequently include multiple species with known cyanotoxin producing strains. We further characterized these potential cyanotoxin producing taxa by deep sequencing amplicons of the microcystin E (mcyE) gene. We found that rivers containing the highest levels of potential cyanotoxin producing cyanobacteria consistently possess taxa with the genetic potential for cyanotoxin production and that, among these taxa, the predominant genus of origin for the mcyE gene is Microcystis. Combined, these data provide a unique perspective on cyanobacteria and potential cyanotoxin producing taxa that exist in large rivers across the U.S. and can be used to better understand the ambient conditions that may precede bloom events in lotic freshwater ecosystems.

Publication Year 2023
Title Metagenomic mapping of cyanobacteria and potential cyanotoxin producing taxa in large rivers of the United States
DOI 10.1038/s41598-023-29037-6
Authors D.M. Linz, N. Sienkiewicz, I. Struewing, Erin A. Stelzer, Jennifer L. Graham, Jingrang Lu
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70240742
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center; Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center