Cyanobacteria Bloom

This study focuses on the intracellular mechanism of microcystin (a toxin produced by many cyanobacteria species) pathway induction upon receiving environmental triggers and the control method for algae bloom and cyanotoxin production. The purpose is to understand the regulation of toxin metabolite networks in Microcystis aeruginosa during microcystin induction caused by environmental triggering factors using both RNA and metabolite analysis approaches.
Cyanobacteria are a group of diverse species, represented by its model species which produce toxins called microcystins that can cause liver diseases and mortality in mouse and human. According to previous research, microcystin production is highly inducible. However, the intracellular mechanism of microcystin pathway induction upon receiving environmental trigger(s) is unclear. Microcystis aeruginosa is a model cyanobacterial species, as its complete genome sequence is available, making systems level studies possible.
In December 2009, Toxic algal bloom along East Johor Strait resulted in massive fish kills and huge economic losses. A deeper understanding of the regulation of microcystin metabolism is essential in predicting the occurrence of such blooms based on environmental factors.
There have been numerous reports on the environmental factors that may trigger microcystin production. In various reports, factors such as nitrogen concentration, phosphorus concentration, light intensity, pH, temperature, number of cells (suggesting quorum sensing), growth phase, and heavy metals have been linked to microcystin production in one way or another. However, their results are often non-reproducible. Our overall goal is to understand the regulation of metabolite (microcystin) networks in Microcystis aeruginosa during microcystin induction caused by environmental triggering factors through integration of transcriptomics and metabolomics approach. The approaches are shown in the flowchart below.