Chislock, M. F., B. K. Olsen, J.J. Choi, A. Abebe, T. L. Bleier, and A. E. Wilson. 2021. Contrasting patterns of 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) vs. geosmin across depth in a drinking water reservoir are mediated by cyanobacteria and actinobacteria. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 28:32005-32014.
Taste and odor episodes caused by off-flavor secondary metabolites, such as 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin, pose one of the greatest challenges for drinking water utilities around the world. The prevalence of these compounds is predicted to increase in the future as a function of nutrient enrichment and elevated temperatures of surface drinking water sources. We conducted a manipulative field experiment in a drinking water reservoir to elucidate patterns for two taste and odor compounds, MIB and geosmin, as well as two taxa known to produce these compounds, phytoplankton (more specifically, cyanobacteria) and actinobacteria, across different depths in response to nutrient enrichment with two common dissolved nitrogen forms, organic urea or inorganic nitrate. In general, we found that MIB levels increased by greater than 250% with nutrient enrichment mediated by increased phytoplankton biomass. However, the effect of the fertilization treatments on MIB decreased with depth with a 35% reduction at 7 m versus 1.5 m. In contrast, geosmin levels reached a maximum at the lowest measured depth (7 m), were unaffected by the fertilization treatments, and followed a similar pattern to the abundance of actinobacteria. Thus, our data suggest that the positive response of phytoplankton (e.g., cyanobacteria, such as Oscillatoria species) to the fertilization treatments is likely responsible for increased MIB, while geosmin concentrations may be a function of actinobacteria-mediated decomposition in the hypolimnion in our study system.
Powers, M. J., A. E. Wilson, K. B. Heine, and G. E. Hill. 2020. The relative importance of various mating criteria in copepods. Journal of Plankton Research 42(1):19-30.
To produce viable offspring, organisms may assess mates via criteria that include traits, such as sex, species, age, reproductive status, population identity and individual quality. Copepods are small, ubiquitous crustaceans that live in freshwater and marine systems around the world whose patterns of mate choice have been long studied in numerous species. Herein, we synthesized decades of experiments describing sexual selection in copepods to assess the importance of mating criteria. We used formal, meta-analytical techniques and mixed modeling to quantify the likelihood of non-random mating associated with mating criteria. In our synthesis of the scientific literature, we found that copepods use several criteria when assessing mates and that these criteria are associated with different likelihood estimates. We report the strongest likelihood of non-random mating when copepods assess the reproductive status of females or when copepods select between conspecific vs. heterospecific mates. We found weak likelihood of non-random mating in studies that provide mates from different populations or that manipulate operational sex ratio. Studies that directly test assessment of individual quality are sparse in copepods when compared to equivalent studies in vertebrates, and we encourage future researchers to explore whether copepods use individual characteristics as key mating criteria.
Kozlowsky-Suzuki, B., A. E. Wilson, and A. Ferrao-Filho. 2012. Biomagnification or biodilution of microcystins in aquatic foodwebs? Meta-analyses of laboratory and field studies. Harmful Algae 18:47-55
Cyanobacteria, conspicuous photoprokaryotes in aquatic ecosystems, may produce secondary metabolites such as the hepatotoxins, microcystins (MC). While MC have been quantified in numerous aquatic consumers across a variety of ecosystems, there is still debate whether biomagnification or biodilution of MC generally occurs in aquatic foodwebs. Given the threat that MC pose to aquatic foodwebs, livestock, and humans, we synthesized data from 42 studies on the concentration of MC in consumers, such as zooplankton, decapods, molluscs, fishes, turtles and birds, to determine the dominant process. To compare results across studies, we calculated the biomagnification factor (BMF) as the ratio between the MC concentration measured in consumers and their diet. Biomagnification is indicated when BMF mean and associated 95% confidence intervals (CI) >1. Biodilution is shown if a BMF mean and 95% CI <1. As expected, increasing concentrations of MC in diets resulted in increasing concentrations of MC in consumers. Nevertheless, biodilution of MC was evident for most primary consumers. This finding was robust across four datasets that focused on different aspects of data independence and variance, and may be explained by low hydrophobicity of MC, diet preferences, or detoxification. Zooplankton and zooplanktivorous fish, however, showed some potential for biomagnification (i.e. mean BMF > 1). Plausible, but largely unexplored, possibilities for the relatively higher MC accumulation by these consumers are low detoxification efficiency by zooplankton, MC trophic transfer via the microbial foodweb, contamination of zooplankton net samples with large cyanobacterial colonies and filaments, or the release of both free and bound MC in zooplankton during digestion by fish. Factors related to study design may have influenced the magnitude of MC biodilution. For example, consumers fed diets consisting of highly toxic cyanobacterial lab cultures and large, potentially inedible net phytoplankton showed greater biodilution when compared to seston. Given their hepatotoxic nature, MC concentrations were relatively higher in liver and hepatopancreas tissues than other tissues. Whole organisms exhibited, however, relatively greater MC (i.e. higher BMF) than specific tissues, and this finding could be attributed to the contribution of zooplankton to whole organism MC analyses (89% of BMF estimates > 1). Finally, BMF was positively related to study length showing that longer exposure to toxic food resulted in higher MC accumulation in consumers, which could have important implications in eutrophic or tropical systems where toxic blooms may persist year-round.