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Irreversible Collective Migration of Cyanobacteria in Eutrophic Conditions

By Julien Dervaux, Annick Mejean and Philippe BRUNET


International audienceIn response to natural or anthropocentric pollutions coupled to global climate changes, microorganisms from aquatic environments can suddenly accumulate on water surface. These dense suspensions, known as blooms, are harmful to ecosystems and significantly degrade the quality of water resources. In order to determine the physico-chemical parameters involved in their formation and quantitatively predict their appearance, we successfully reproduced irreversible cyanobacterial blooms in vitro. By combining chemical, biochemical and hydrodynamic evidences, we identify a mechanism, unrelated to the presence of internal gas vesicles, allowing the sudden collective upward migration in test tubes of several cyanobacterial strains (Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7005, Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806 and Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803). The final state consists in a foamy layer of bio-mass at the air-liquid interface, in which microorganisms remain alive for weeks, the medium lying below being almost completely depleted of cyanobacteria. These "laboratory blooms" start with the aggregation of cells at high ionic force in cyanobacterial strains that produce anionic extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Under appropriate conditions of nutrients and light intensity, the high photosynthetic activity within cell clusters leads the dissolved oxygen (DO) to supersaturate and to nucleate into bubbles. Trapped within the EPS, these bubbles grow until their buoyancy pulls the biomass towards the free surface. By investigating a wide range of spatially homogeneous environmental conditions (illumination, salinity, cell and nutrient concentration) we identify species-dependent thresholds and timescales for bloom formation. We conclude on the relevance of such results for cyanobacterial bloom formation in the environment and we propose an efficient method for biomass harvesting in bioreactors

Topics: [ PHYS.PHYS.PHYS-BIO-PH ] Physics [physics]/Physics [physics]/Biological Physics [], [ PHYS.COND.CM-SCM ] Physics [physics]/Condensed Matter [cond-mat]/Soft Condensed Matter [cond-mat.soft], [ PHYS.MECA.MEFL ] Physics [physics]/Mechanics [physics]/Mechanics of the fluids [physics.class-ph], [ PHYS.PHYS.PHYS-FLU-DYN ] Physics [physics]/Physics [physics]/Fluid Dynamics [physics.flu-dyn], [ NLIN.NLIN-PS ] Nonlinear Sciences [physics]/Pattern Formation and Solitons [nlin.PS]
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120906
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:hal-01163358v1
Provided by: Hal-Diderot

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