Dietrich, Daniel R.
Abundance and toxicity of Planktothrix rubescens in the pre-alpine Lake Ammersee, Germany
2009, Ernst, Bernhard, Höger, Stefan J., O´Brien, Evelyn, Dietrich, Daniel R.
Regular occurrences of the cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens have been observed in several lakes that have undergone recent re-oligotrophication, e.g. Lake Ammersee. Planktothrix species are known to produce microcystins, potent phosphatase inhibitors that have been associated with morbidities and mortalities in humans and animals. The aim of this study was to characterise the temporal and spatial abundance and toxicity of P. rubescens in Lake Ammersee.
P. rubescens cell densities and biovolumes were calculated via fluorescence image analyses. P. rubescens was present during the entire observation period from 1999 to 2004, albeit at different cell densities. Maximum biovolumes of 45 cm³ m‾² were observed in May 2001. Filaments were regularly distributed over the entire water column during winter and stratified in distinct metalimnic layers during summer, reaching maximum cell densities of ≤15,000 (winter) and ≤77,000 cells ml‾¹ (summer). The results demonstrate that P. rubescens abundance is strongly influenced by water transparency, i.e. illumination in the metalimnion. Moreover, the P. rubescens abundance appears to result from regular phosphate depletion in the epilimnion. possibly additionally benefiting from high nitrogen loads.
Microcystin (MC) was detectable in 27 and 38 of 54 seston samples via HPLC and Adda-ELISA measurements, respectively. The main microcystin congeners in the seston samples were [Asp³]-MC-RR and [Asp³,Dhb7]-MC-RR. Microcystin concentrations correlated significantly with the respective phycoerythrin (PE)-concentrations. The variation in the MC/PE-ratios was low suggesting that the microcystin production of P. rubescens in Lake Ammersee is consistent and indicates that the appearance of P. rubescens coincides with measurable microcystin levels. Moreover, the observation of pronounced metalimnic oxygen depletions appears to be causally related to recurring high P. rubescens abundance.
In conclusion the results suggest that aquatic organisms such as indigenous fish populations (e.g. coregonids) are regularly confronted with potentially adverse P. rubescens densities, which might provide a possible explanation for the often observed impaired health and growth retardation of coregonid populations in P. rubescens containing pre-alpine lakes.
Determination of the filamentous cyanobacteria Planktothrix rubescens in environmental water samples using an image processing system
2006, Ernst, Bernhard, Neser, Stephan, O'Brien, Evelyn, Höger, Stefan J., Dietrich, Daniel R.
Cyanobacteria occur in surface waters worldwide. Many of these produce peptides and/or alkaloids, which can present a risk for animal and human health. Effective risk assessment and management requires continuous and precise observation and quantification of cyanobacterial cell densities. In this respect, quantification of filamentous Planktothrix species is problematic. The aim of this study was to develop an automated system to count filamentous Planktothrix rubescens using image processing. Furthermore, this study aimed to assess optimum sample volumes and filament density for measurement precision and to validate image processing measurement of P. rubescens for an effective risk assessment.
Three environmental samples and one cultured sample of P. rubescens were collected by filtration onto nitrocellulose filters. Filament lengths were determined using fluorescence microscopy combined with an image processor. Cell density could be calculated from the resulting images. Cyanobacteria could easily be discriminated from algae via their fluorescence properties. The results were found to be independent of the mode of image acquisition. The precision of total filament length determination was dependent on the total filament length on the filter, i.e. analyses of highest precision could be expected for filters containing 2000 20,000 μm filaments per mm2. When using suitable filtration volumes, the detection limits of the described method are sufficient for an effective risk assessment. To summarise, this procedure is a fast, easy and accurate method to determine cell densities of filamentous P. rubescens in water samples without costly and tedious manual handling.
Physiological stress and pathology in European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) induced by subchronic exposure to environmentally relevant densities of Planktothrix rubescens
2007, Ernst, Bernhard, Höger, Stefan J., O'Brien, Evelyn, Dietrich, Daniel R.
Planktothrix rubescens belongs to the most ubiquitous cyanobacterial species in mesotrophic and oligotrophic lakes in the pre-alpine regions. In most of these lakes, coregonids are among the dominant species of the ichthyofauna with great importance for the professional fishery. A possible link between the occurrence of toxic Planktothrix blooms and the recurrent slumps in coregonid yields has been suggested. Indeed, acute toxic effects of microcystins and other cyanobacterial toxins have been shown for various fish species. However, chronic exposure scenarios appear to be more common and thus more environmentally realistic than acute intoxications. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the physiological stress response and organ pathology in coregonids sub-chronically exposed to ambient water containing low, medium and high P. rubescens densities, known to be typical of pre-alpine lakes. Coregonid hatchlings were exposed in four tanks containing 0 (sham-control) and approximately 1500 (low), 15,000 (medium) and 55,000 (high) P. rubescens cells/ml for up to 28 days. Temperature, oxygen concentration, pH-value, P. rubescens cell density and microcystin concentration were recorded and the fish were observed for behavioural changes and examined for parasite infestations. Gill ventilation rates, general condition factors and mortalities were determined and liver, kidney, gut and gill were assessed histopathologically and immunhistologically.
Depending on the cell density, exposed fish showed behavioural changes, including increased ventilation rates possibly representing a physiological stress response. Susceptibility to ectoparasitic infestation and increased mortality in exposed fish suggested P. rubescens associated effects on fish fitness. Histopathological alterations in liver, gastrointestinal tract and kidney, which were also immunopositive for microcystin suggested causality of tissue damage and the presence of microcystins. In contrast, observed gill pathology appeared to result primarily from mechanical abrasion and irritation due to ectoparasitic infestation. The current exposure experiment confirmed the hypothesis that subchronic and chronic exposure to low cyanobacterial cell densities and hence microcystins can exacerbate physiological stress and sustained pathological alterations in exposed coregonids. The study therefore supports the theory that P. rubescens blooms may be causal to the observed weight reduction and hence fitness of coregonids in pre-alpine lakes such as Lake Ammersee (Germany).
Oral toxicity of the microcystin-containing cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens in European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus)
2006, Ernst, Bernhard, Höger, Stefan J., O'Brien, Evelyn, Dietrich, Daniel R.
The microcystin-producing cyanobacterium Planktothrix is one of the most widespread genera amongst toxin producing cyanobacteria in European lakes. In particular, the metalimnic blooms of Planktothrix rubescens have been associated with growing problems in the professional freshwater fishery as a decrease in yearly yields in the important coregonids fishery often coincides with the appearance of P. rubescens. P. rubescens is a cyanobacterial species known to produce toxic compounds, e.g. microcystins. Although microcystins have been reported to affect fish health, behaviour, development and growth and have also been associated with feral fish kills, there is currently no specific information on the effects of toxic Planktothrix filaments in fish and especially coregonids. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of an environmentally relevant dose of P. rubescens filaments orally applied to coregonids and to discuss the findings in the context of microcystin toxicity previously reported in carp and trout.
A single dose of P. rubescens culture, at a density of 80,000 cells per 120 μl, was applied to coregonids thus corresponding to 0.6 0.9 μg microcystin-LRequiv./kg body weight. Behavioural changes and opercular beat rates, growth, hepatosomatic index, condition and plasma glucose were determined. Liver, kidney, gill and the gastrointestinal tract were assessed histopathologically and immunhistologically. Exposed fish showed behavioural changes, increased opercular beat rates and elevated plasma glucose levels, possibly representing a physiological stress response. Histopathological alterations in liver, gastrointestinal tract and kidney, also immunopositive for microcystin suggested causality of tissue damage and the in situ presence of microcystins.
The observed combination of stress and organ damage may explain the frequently reduced weight and thus the fitness noted in coregonids subjected to regular occurrences of stratified and dispersed P. rubescens blooms, e.g. in lake Ammersee, Bavaria, Germany.
Presence of Planktothrix sp. and cyanobacterial toxins in Lake Ammersee, Germany and their impact on whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus L.)
2001, Ernst, Bernhard, Hitzfeld, Bettina C., Dietrich, Daniel R.
Due to the increasing oligotrophy of Lake Ammersee, southern Germany, metalimnic Planktothrix have become one of the dominant planktonic species causing regular blooms. Whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) is the dominant local fish species with great importance for the fishing industry. Recently, whole age groups of this fish species have disappeared and since 1991, average body-weight has decreased. The causes for this remain unclear. Planktothrix species produce the cyclic peptide toxin desmethyl microcystin-RR, which inhibits glycogen metabolism and has detrimental effects on the development of aquatic organisms. During blooms, gut contents of whitefish displayed a blue discoloration, possibly representing phycobiliproteins typical for cyanobacteria. This study aimed to elucidate the impact of Planktothrix blooms on fish population dynamics. Planktothrix cell counts, performed by epifluorescence microscopy, showed blooms to contain up to 80,000 cells/ml. Microcystin levels of 1-5g/mg dry weight in Planktothrix extracts and 0.08g/l in water samples, were determined via HPLC and protein-phosphatase inhibition assay. Planktothrix filaments were detected in gut contents of whitefish. In addition, microcystins could be detected in gut contents via ELISA. Similarly, immunoprobing with microcystin-antibodies demonstrated microcystin-protein adducts in liver homogenates of whitefish caught during Planktothrix blooms. Furthermore, Planktothrix extracts proved cytotoxic to trout hepatocytes as determined by MTT reduction. Whitefish eggs and larvae, obtained during blooms in winter 1998 and 2000 in a Lake Ammersee hatchery, were studied for developmental progress. Malformations typical for cyanobacterial toxin exposure were observed.
Analytical and functional characterization of microcystins [Asp3]MC-RR and [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR : consequences for risk assessment?
2007, Höger, Stefan J., Schmid, Daniela, Blom, Judith F., Ernst, Bernhard, Dietrich, Daniel R.
The microcystin (MC) producing P. rubescens occurs in pre-alpine lakes and may impact fishery success, bathing, and raw water quality. P. rubescens extracts, characterized via LC-MS, contained the two MC-RR variants [Asp3]MC-RR and [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR. The protein-phosphatase-inhibition assay (cPPIA with phosphatases 1 and 2A) in its capability to quantify [Asp3]MC-RR, [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR, and MC-RR was compared to HPLC-DAD and anti-Adda-ELISA. The IC50 values (PP1 and PP2A) determined for MC-LR, MC-RR, and [Asp3]MC-RR were in the same range (1.9-3.8 and 0.45-0.75 nM). A 50-fold higher concentration of [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR (29.8 nM) was necessary to inhibit the PP2A by 50%. The PP1-IC50 of [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR was 22-fold higher (56.4 nM) than those of the other MCs, suggesting that specific structural characteristics are responsible for its weaker PPI capacity. Western blots demonstrated that [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR does not covalently bind to PP1. [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR has comparable in vivo LD50 values to MC-RR, despite a far lower PP-inhibiting capacity, suggesting that toxicodynamic and toxicokinetic characteristics of [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR are responsible for its high in vivo toxicity. The data demonstrate that cPPIA analysis of [Asp3,Dhb7]MC-RR-containing samples prevent reliable MC determination and lead to underestimation of potential toxicity.
Recovery of MC-LR in fish liver tissue
2005, Ernst, Bernhard, Dietz, Lisa, Höger, Stefan J., Dietrich, Daniel R.
Cyanotoxins, particularly microcystins (MCs), have been shown to be a hazard to human health. MCs accumulate in aquatic organisms probably as a result of irreversible binding to liver protein phosphatases. The aim of this study was to describe the recovery of MC from fish liver using various detection methods, with MC-LR as the representative congener. These findings are discussed in conjunction with the current procedures and limit values used for human risk assessment. Following incubation of liver homogenates with various MC-LR concentrations, the homogenates were extracted by a water/methanol/butanol mixture via different treatments and subsequently analyzed via the colorimetric protein phosphatase inhibition assay (cPPA), HPLC, and anti-Adda ELISA. Detection via cPPA appeared to yield the highest recovery of MC-LR, although the presence of unspecific background may have resulted in overestimation of the true recovery. The recoveries determined via HPLC and anti-Adda ELISA were comparable to each other. The limits of detection were 0.01-2.4μg MC-LR/g liver tissue, depending on the method used. Maximum MC-LR recovery from samples incubated with 10 and 100μg MC-LR/g ranged between 44% and 101%. Recovery from samples incubated with 1μg MC-LR/g liver tissue was below 3%. Lower recovery is assumed to result from irreversible, covalent MC protein binding, as confirmed by Western blotting of liver homogenates with anti-Adda immunoprobing. The results demonstrate that further investigation of and improvement in routinely applied MC methods for fish tissue and/or food analyses are needed for a reliable risk assessment.