Recent invader or indicator of environmental change? A phylogenetic and ecological study of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii in New Zealand
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Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii is a diazotrophic and potentially toxic cyanobacterium that was initially thought to be confined to tropical freshwaters. Recently it appears to have expanded its range to more temperate regions of the globe. There are contrasting hypotheses to explain this spread including; dispersal of highly adapted strains or localised spread from warm refuges as climatic or environmental conditions change. C. raciborskii was first detected in the isolated island nation of New Zealand in 2003, providing a unique opportunity to explore whether this recent identification is due to a new incursion or resultant from climatic or environmental change. Phylogenetic analysis (nifH, ITS1-L, ITS1-S, and rpoC1) of six strains isolated from two New Zealand lakes showed they were most closely related to those from South America, and suggest that the recent detection of this species was not due to a new incursion. Ten years of environmental data from three lakes (Waaki, Waikare and Whangape) experiencing blooms were analysed to identify potential reasons for recent C. raciborskii blooms. This analysis showed that the relatively recent (within the last 20–30 years) collapses of extensive macrophyte stands in lakes Waaki, Waikare and Whangape have resulted in increased turbidity’, low water column dissolved reactive phosphorus and seasonal shifts in the dissolved inorganic nitrogen availability, all conditions known to facilitate C. raciborskii dominance. Collectively these data indicate that C. raciborskii has always been present in New Zealand, and that recent changes in environmental conditions in these lakes are now facilitating bloom events.
Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified