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Effects of Cd, Cu, Ni, and Zn on Brown Tide Alga Aureococcus Anophagefferens Growth and Metal Accumulation

Wang, Bin, Axe, Lisa, Michalopoulou, Zoi-Heleni, Wei, Liping
Environmental Science & Technology 2012 v.46 no.1 pp. 517-524
Synechococcus, algae, algal blooms, cadmium, copper, genomics, median effective concentration, nickel, phytoplankton, zinc, Northeastern United States
Trace metals play important roles in regulating phytoplankton growth and could influence algal bloom development. Laboratory studies were conducted to evaluate the influence of environmentally relevant concentrations of Cd, Cu, Ni, and Zn on Aureococcus anophagefferens bloom (brown tide) development. Results show that the elevated Ni²⁺ concentrations, e.g. those of brown tide waters in the northeastern US, greatly stimulated A. anophagefferens growth (as compared to the control without Ni addition), yet, only low amounts of dissolved Ni were sequestered, thus leaving excessive Ni directly promoting A. anophagefferens blooms. The medium effective concentration EC₅₀ (Me²⁺) suggests A. anophagefferens has similar Cd sensitivity but much greater Cu tolerance as compared to cyanobacteria, as such, excessive Cu could indirectly promote A. anophagefferens blooms by inhibiting competitors such as Synechococcus sp. The effects of Ni and Cu promoting growth are consistent with the recent genomic study of this alga. In addition, Zn²⁺ concentrations lower than those in brown tide waters enhance A. anophagefferens growth, but Zn sequestration in A. anophagefferens would not substantially reduce total dissolved Zn in these waters. Overall, this study, showing that excessive Cu and Ni likely promote brown tides, provides evidence for trace metal linkages in algal bloom development.