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Phytoplankton community and algal toxicity at a recurring bloom in Sullivan Bay, Kabetogama Lake, Minnesota, USA

November 6, 2019

Kabetogama Lake in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, USA suffers from recurring late summer algal blooms that often contain toxin-producing cyanobacteria. Previous research identified the toxin microcystin in blooms, but we wanted to better understand how the algal and cyanobacterial community changed throughout an open water season and how changes in community structure were related to toxin production. Therefore, we sampled one recurring bloom location throughout the entire open water season. The uniqueness of this study is the absence of urban and agricultural nutrient sources, the remote location, and the collection of samples before any visible blooms were present. Through quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), we discovered that toxin-forming cyanobacteria were present before visible blooms and toxins not previously detected in this region (anatoxin-a and saxitoxin) were present, indicating that sampling for additional toxins and sampling earlier in the season may be necessary to assess ecosystems and human health risk.