Dynamics of bacterial community composition and activity during a mesocosm diatom bloom. (1/248)

Bacterial community composition, enzymatic activities, and carbon dynamics were examined during diatom blooms in four 200-liter laboratory seawater mesocosms. The objective was to determine whether the dramatic shifts in growth rates and ectoenzyme activities, which are commonly observed during the course of phytoplankton blooms and their subsequent demise, could result from shifts in bacterial community composition. Nutrient enrichment of metazoan-free seawater resulted in diatom blooms dominated by a Thalassiosira sp., which peaked 9 days after enrichment ( approximately 24 microg of chlorophyll a liter(-1)). At this time bacterial abundance abruptly decreased from 2.8 x 10(6) to 0.75 x 10(6) ml(-1), and an analysis of bacterial community composition, by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments, revealed the disappearance of three dominant phylotypes. Increased viral and flagellate abundances suggested that both lysis and grazing could have played a role in the observed phylotype-specific mortality. Subsequently, new phylotypes appeared and bacterial production, abundance, and enzyme activities shifted from being predominantly associated with the <1.0-microm size fraction towards the >1.0-microm size fraction, indicating a pronounced microbial colonization of particles. Sequencing of DGGE bands suggested that the observed rapid and extensive colonization of particulate matter was mainly by specialized alpha-Proteobacteria- and Cytophagales-related phylotypes. These particle-associated bacteria had high growth rates as well as high cell-specific aminopeptidase, beta-glucosidase, and lipase activities. Rate measurements as well as bacterial population dynamics were almost identical among the mesocosms indicating that the observed bacterial community dynamics were systematic and repeatable responses to the manipulated conditions.  (+info)

Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change. (2/248)

During the next 50 years, which is likely to be the final period of rapid agricultural expansion, demand for food by a wealthier and 50% larger global population will be a major driver of global environmental change. Should past dependences of the global environmental impacts of agriculture on human population and consumption continue, 10(9) hectares of natural ecosystems would be converted to agriculture by 2050. This would be accompanied by 2.4- to 2.7-fold increases in nitrogen- and phosphorus-driven eutrophication of terrestrial, freshwater, and near-shore marine ecosystems, and comparable increases in pesticide use. This eutrophication and habitat destruction would cause unprecedented ecosystem simplification, loss of ecosystem services, and species extinctions. Significant scientific advances and regulatory, technological, and policy changes are needed to control the environmental impacts of agricultural expansion.  (+info)

Possible estuary-associated syndrome: symptoms, vision, and treatment. (3/248)

The human illness designated as possible estuarine-associated syndrome (PEAS) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been associated with exposure to estuaries inhabited by toxin-forming dinoflagellates, including members of the fish-killing toxic Pfiesteria complex (TPC), Pfiesteria piscicida and Pfiesteria shumwayae. Humans may be exposed through direct contact with estuarine water or by inhalation of aerosolized or volatilized toxin(s). The five cases reported here demonstrate the full spectrum of symptoms experienced during acute and chronic stages of this suspected neurotoxin-mediated illness. The nonspecific symptoms most commonly reported are cough, secretory diarrhea, headache, fatigue, memory impairment, rash, difficulty in concentrating, light sensitivity, burning skin upon water contact, muscle ache, and abdominal pain. Less frequently encountered symptoms are upper airway obstruction, shortness of breath, confusion, red or tearing eyes, weakness, and vertigo. Some patients experience as few as four of these symptoms. The discovery that an indicator of visual pattern-detection ability, visual contrast sensitivity (VCS), is sharply reduced in affected individuals has provided an objective indicator that is useful in diagnosing and monitoring PEAS. VCS deficits are present in both acute and chronic PEAS, and VCS recovers during cholestyramine treatment coincident with symptom abatement. Although PEAS cannot yet be definitively associated with TPC exposure, resolution with cholestyramine treatment suggests a neurotoxin-mediated illness.  (+info)

Pfiesteria-related educational products and information resources available to the public, health officials, and researchers. (4/248)

Public and political concerns about Pfiesteria from 1997 to the present vastly exceed the attention given to other harmful algal bloom (HAB) issues in the United States. To some extent, the intense focus on Pfiesteria has served to increase attention on HABs in general. Given the strong and continuing public, political, and research interests in Pfiesteria piscicida Steidinger & Burkholder and related organisms, there is a clear need for information and resources of many different types. This article provides information on Pfiesteria-related educational products and information resources available to the general public, health officials, and researchers. These resources are compiled into five categories: reports; website resources; state outreach and communication programs; fact sheets; and training manuals and documentaries. Over the last few years there has been rapid expansion in the amount of Pfiesteria-related information available, particularly on the Internet, and it is scattered among many different sources.  (+info)

The role of nutrient loading and eutrophication in estuarine ecology. (5/248)

Eutrophication is a process that can be defined as an increase in the rate of supply of organic matter (OM) to an ecosystem. We provide a general overview of the major features driving estuarine eutrophication and outline some of the consequences of that process. The main chemical constituent of OM is carbon (C), and therefore rates of eutrophication are expressed in units of C per area per unit time. OM occurs in both particulate and dissolved forms. Allochthonous OM originates outside the estuary, whereas autochthonous OM is generated within the system, mostly by primary producers or by benthic regeneration of OM. The supply rates of limiting nutrients regulate phytoplankton productivity that contributes to inputs of autochthonous OM. The trophic status of an estuary is often based on eutrophication rates and can be categorized as oligotrophic (<100 g C m(-2) y(-1), mesotrophic (100-300 g C m(-2) y(-1), eutrophic (300-500 g C m(-2) y(-1), or hypertrophic (>500 g C m(-2) y(-1). Ecosystem responses to eutrophication depend on both export rates (flushing, microbially mediated losses through respiration, and denitrification) and recycling/regeneration rates within the estuary. The mitigation of the effects of eutrophication involves the regulation of inorganic nutrient (primarily N and P) inputs into receiving waters. Appropriately scaled and parameterized nutrient and hydrologic controls are the only realistic options for controlling phytoplankton blooms, algal toxicity, and other symptoms of eutrophication in estuarine ecosystems.  (+info)

State monitoring activities related to Pfiesteria-like organisms. (6/248)

In response to potential threats to human health and fish populations, six states along the east coast of the United States initiated monitoring programs related to Pfiesteria-like organisms in 1998. These actions were taken in the wake of toxic outbreaks of Pfiesteria piscicida Steidinger & Burkholder in Maryland during 1997 and previous outbreaks in North Carolina. The monitoring programs have two major purposes. The first, rapid response, is to ensure public safety by responding immediately to conditions that may indicate the presence of Pfiesteria or related organisms in a toxic state. The second, comprehensive assessment, is to provide a more complete understanding of where Pfiesteria-like organisms may become a threat, to understand what factors may stimulate their growth and toxicity, and to evaluate the impacts of these organisms upon fish and other aquatic life. In states where human health studies are being conducted, the data from both types of monitoring are used to provide information on environmental exposure. The three elements included in each monitoring program are identification of Pfiesteria-like organisms, water quality measurements, and assessments of fish health. Identification of Pfiesteria-like organisms is a particularly difficult element of the monitoring programs, as these small species cannot be definitively identified using light microscopy; newly applied molecular techniques, however, are starting to provide alternatives to traditional methods. State monitoring programs also offer many opportunities for collaborations with research initiatives targeting both environmental and human health issues related to Pfiesteria-like organisms.  (+info)

Field ecology of toxic Pfiesteria complex species and a conservative analysis of their role in estuarine fish kills. (7/248)

Within the past decade, toxic Pfiesteria outbreaks have been documented in poorly flushed, eutrophic areas of the largest and second largest estuaries on the U.S. mainland. Here we summarize a decadal field effort in fish kill assessment, encompassing kills related to Pfiesteria (49 major kills in North Carolina estuaries since 1991 and 4 in Maryland estuaries in 1997) and to other factors such as low oxygen stress (79 major fish kills in North Carolina estuaries). The laboratory and field data considered in developing our protocols are described, including toxic Pfiesteria behavior, environmental conditions conducive to toxic Pfiesteria activity, and impacts of toxic clonal Pfiesteria on fish health. We outline the steps of the standardized fish bioassay procedure that has been used since 1991 to diagnose whether actively toxic Pfiesteria was present during estuarine fish kills. Detailed data are given for a 1998 toxic Pfiesteria outbreak in the Neuse Estuary in North Carolina to illustrate of the full suite of diagnostic steps completed. We demonstrate that our conservative approach in implicating toxic Pfiesteria involvement in fish kills has biased in favor of causes other than Pfiesteria. Data are summarized from experiments that have shown stimulation of toxic Pfiesteria strains by nutrient (N, P) enrichment, supporting field observations of highest abundance of toxic strains in eutrophic estuaries. On the basis of a decade of research on toxic Pfiesteria, we present a conceptual model of the seasonal dynamics of toxic strains as affected by changing food resources and weather patterns. We also recommend protocols and research approaches that will strengthen the science of fish kill assessment related to Pfiesteria and/or other causative factors.  (+info)

History and timing of human impact on Lake Victoria, East Africa. (8/248)

Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake in the world, suffers from severe eutrophication and the probable extinction of up to half of its 500+ species of endemic cichlid fishes. The continuing degradation of Lake Victoria's ecological functions has serious long-term consequences for the ecosystem services it provides, and may threaten social welfare in the countries bordering its shores. Evaluation of recent ecological changes in the context of aquatic food-web alterations, catchment disturbance and natural ecosystem variability has been hampered by the scarcity of historical monitoring data. Here, we present high-resolution palaeolimnological data, which show that increases in phytoplankton production developed from the 1930s onwards, which parallels human-population growth and agricultural activity in the Lake Victoria drainage basin. Dominance of bloom-forming cyanobacteria since the late 1980s coincided with a relative decline in diatom growth, which can be attributed to the seasonal depletion of dissolved silica resulting from 50 years of enhanced diatom growth and burial. Eutrophication-induced loss of deep-water oxygen started in the early 1960s, and may have contributed to the 1980s collapse of indigenous fish stocks by eliminating suitable habitat for certain deep-water cichlids. Conservation of Lake Victoria as a functioning ecosystem is contingent upon large-scale implementation of improved land-use practices.  (+info)