Sneed, Jennifer M., Meickle, Theresa, Engene, Niclas, Reed, Sherry, Gunasekera, Sarath, and Paul, Valerie J. 2017. "Bloom dynamics and chemical defenses of benthic cyanobacteria in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida." Harmful Algae 69 (Supplement C):75-82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2017.10.002
Cyanobacterial blooms are predicted to become more prominent in the future as a result of increasing seawater temperatures and the continued addition of nutrients to coastal waters. Many benthic marine cyanobacteria have potent chemical defenses that protect them from top down pressures and contribute to the persistence of blooms. Blooms of benthic cyanobacteria have been observed along the coast of Florida and within the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), a biodiverse estuary system that spans 250km along Florida's east coast. In this study, the cyanobacterial bloom progression at three sites within the central IRL was monitored over the course of two summers. The blooms consisted of four unique cyanobacterial species, including the recently described Okeania erythroflocculosa. The cyanobacteria produced a range of known bioactive compounds including malyngolide, lyngbyoic acid, microcolins A-B, and desacetylmicrocolin B. Ecologically-relevant assays showed that malyngolide inhibited the growth of marine fungi (Dendryphiella salina and Lindra thalassiae); microcolins A-B and desacetylmicrocolin B inhibited feeding by a generalist herbivore, the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus; and lyngbyoic acid inhibited fungal growth and herbivore feeding. These chemical defenses likely contribute to the persistence of cyanobacterial blooms in the IRL during the summer growing period.