Research Topic

Global Intensification of Cyanobacterial Blooms: The Driving Forces and Mitigation Approaches

About this Research Topic

Intensification of toxic cyanobacteria blooms in fresh water bodies is a matter of growing concern worldwide. These blooms affect public health and ecosystem services globally with serious implications on human, livestock, pets and wildlife health. They interfere with the stability of the aquatic ecosystems and endanger drinking-water supply, the aquatic food production, and recreation activities. The economic losses are estimated at many billions of USD yearly, but far worse are the sociological impacts on human way of life. It is not surprising therefore that there is intense research on Microcystis blooms ongoing, with over 500 papers published only this year.

Resetting the composition of phytoplankton populations in infected water bodies to the pre-massive toxic blooms era is the biggest challenge at the moment. Anthropogenic eutrophication, catchment modifications and climate change were all implicated in the global intensification of phytoplankton blooms. Since algae won’t flourish without suitable abiotic conditions and a proper supply of nutrients, it is widely accepted that on the long run, substantial reduction in nutrient loads through management of the drainage basin is a pre-requisite to mitigate bloom events. However, the aquatic ecosystems respond to such measures rather slowly, and it may therefore take many years to reset the phytoplankton populations.

Since the current mitigation methodologies are either ineffective (indicated by the persistence and sometimes even intensification of the blooms) or far too expensive for large scale water bodies, development of novel management strategies and treatment approaches is needed. These strategies should also integrate bloom prediction models with advanced monitoring technologies.

Exploring the large array of secondary metabolites produced by cyanobacteria and other microorganisms in the water bodies might yield novel concepts on the regulation and control of toxic cyanobacteria blooms. There is a growing body of evidence that certain secondary metabolites serve as communication signals within and between phytoplankton populations. Others show biocidal and central biochemical activities such as binding to specific proteins. But, for the most part, the evolutionary driving forces for their production, their biological role and their synergism with other metabolites in the framework of the aquatic ecosystem are only partly understood. Finally, if the cyanobacterial secondary metabolites significantly affect their performance/fitness, why were these functions lost in the non- producing lineages? Were they replaced by other metabolites? A better understanding of their biological role may shed light on the mechanisms wherewith bloom forming species performs so well under changing environmental conditions and may be recruited to combat toxic blooms.

This Research Topic presents research papers and reviews that explore novel approaches expanding our understanding of the development of toxic phytoplankton blooms and their immense performance in a changing environment, with particular focus on Microcystis sp. It aims to address various aspects of cyanobacterial blooms including the following:

• abiotic and biotic drivers of cyanobacteria blooms,
• biological role of secondary metabolites, including cyanotoxins, in the bloom’s lifecycle,
• allelopathic and info-chemical interactions between microorganisms involved in toxic blooms,
• competition in host/parasite interactions, including cyanophages,
• novel strategies for mitigation of cyanobacterial blooms.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Intensification of toxic cyanobacteria blooms in fresh water bodies is a matter of growing concern worldwide. These blooms affect public health and ecosystem services globally with serious implications on human, livestock, pets and wildlife health. They interfere with the stability of the aquatic ecosystems and endanger drinking-water supply, the aquatic food production, and recreation activities. The economic losses are estimated at many billions of USD yearly, but far worse are the sociological impacts on human way of life. It is not surprising therefore that there is intense research on Microcystis blooms ongoing, with over 500 papers published only this year.

Resetting the composition of phytoplankton populations in infected water bodies to the pre-massive toxic blooms era is the biggest challenge at the moment. Anthropogenic eutrophication, catchment modifications and climate change were all implicated in the global intensification of phytoplankton blooms. Since algae won’t flourish without suitable abiotic conditions and a proper supply of nutrients, it is widely accepted that on the long run, substantial reduction in nutrient loads through management of the drainage basin is a pre-requisite to mitigate bloom events. However, the aquatic ecosystems respond to such measures rather slowly, and it may therefore take many years to reset the phytoplankton populations.

Since the current mitigation methodologies are either ineffective (indicated by the persistence and sometimes even intensification of the blooms) or far too expensive for large scale water bodies, development of novel management strategies and treatment approaches is needed. These strategies should also integrate bloom prediction models with advanced monitoring technologies.

Exploring the large array of secondary metabolites produced by cyanobacteria and other microorganisms in the water bodies might yield novel concepts on the regulation and control of toxic cyanobacteria blooms. There is a growing body of evidence that certain secondary metabolites serve as communication signals within and between phytoplankton populations. Others show biocidal and central biochemical activities such as binding to specific proteins. But, for the most part, the evolutionary driving forces for their production, their biological role and their synergism with other metabolites in the framework of the aquatic ecosystem are only partly understood. Finally, if the cyanobacterial secondary metabolites significantly affect their performance/fitness, why were these functions lost in the non- producing lineages? Were they replaced by other metabolites? A better understanding of their biological role may shed light on the mechanisms wherewith bloom forming species performs so well under changing environmental conditions and may be recruited to combat toxic blooms.

This Research Topic presents research papers and reviews that explore novel approaches expanding our understanding of the development of toxic phytoplankton blooms and their immense performance in a changing environment, with particular focus on Microcystis sp. It aims to address various aspects of cyanobacterial blooms including the following:

• abiotic and biotic drivers of cyanobacteria blooms,
• biological role of secondary metabolites, including cyanotoxins, in the bloom’s lifecycle,
• allelopathic and info-chemical interactions between microorganisms involved in toxic blooms,
• competition in host/parasite interactions, including cyanophages,
• novel strategies for mitigation of cyanobacterial blooms.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

01 April 2020 Abstract
31 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 April 2020 Abstract
31 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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