Browsing by Subject "Cyanobacteria"

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  • Christodoulou, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The rapid emergence of drug resistant pathogens prevents effective treatment of diseases and threatens the lives of millions of people. Similarly, resistance to chemotherapeutic agents has been observed in several types of cancer. Therefore, screening for novel antimicrobial and antileukemic substances is urgently needed. Screening microorganisms for bioactive molecules has resulted in the discovery of several substances that are currently used for disease treatment. Cyanobacteria represent an ancient group of oxygenic, photosynthetic prokaryotes that produce a variety of functionally diverse and structurally complex natural compounds, some of which have already been used as source of inspiration in drug development process. In this study, I evaluated the antimicrobial and antileukemic potential of filamentous cyanobacteria against Gram-positive, Gram-negative and fungal potential pathogens and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) MOLM-13 cell line. Extracts showing antibiotic and/or antileukemic activity were subjected to reversed-phase HPLC and individual fractions were re-evaluated for their ability to kill the abovementioned pathogens and/or induce cell death in MOLM-13 cell line. Metabolites present in the active HPLC fractions were analysed by UPLC/ESI/Q-TOF and elemental compositions were obtained. Identification of metabolites was accomplished by searching online databases for compounds with identical elemental composition. Chemical structures were further confirmed by comparing mass spectrometry data with publicly available data. New bioactive metabolites, new variants of known metabolites and a number of yet unidentified metabolites exhibiting antimicrobial and/or antileukemic activity are reported herein. In detail, novel metabolites belonging to aromatic polyketides and their new variants were present in the active fractions of Nostoc sp. CENA69. The cyanobacterium Aliinostoc sp. CENA513 produced the recently discovered metabolite nocuolin A, a compound with antimicrobial and antiproliferative properties, lipids and unidentified lipidic compounds that showed only bactericidal activity against B. cereus. Interestingly, none of the abovementioned strains had any effect on the growth of Gram-negative pathogens. Planktothrix agardhii UHCC 0018 and Anabaena sp. UHCC 0187 strains showed only antileukemic activity. The majority of the bioactive fractions deriving from these two strains contained either lipids or pigments and their derivatives. The remaining active HPLC fractions of these two strains contained a great number of unidentified compounds. Further studies are required to identify the unknown compounds and purify the novel metabolites and antibacterial lipids. The results presented herein clearly show that Cyanobacteria are an emerging source of bioactive metabolites that can be used in drug development process or act as a source of inspiration for the production of novel synthetic drugs.
  • Humisto, Anu; Jokela, Jouni; Teigen, Knut; Wahlsten, Matti; Permi, Perttu; Sivonen, Kaarina; Herfindal, Lars (2019)
    Hassallidins are cyclic glycolipopeptides produced by cyanobacteria and other prokaryotes. The hassallidin structure consists of a peptide ring of eight amino acids where a fatty acid chain, additional amino acids, and sugar moieties are attached. Hassallidins show antifungal activity against several opportunistic human pathogenic fungi, but does not harbor antibacterial effects. However, they have not been studied on mammalian cells, and the mechanism of action is unknown. We purified hassallidin D from cultured cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. UHCC 0258 and characterized its effect on mammalian and fungal cells. Ultrastructural analysis showed that hassallidin D disrupts cell membranes, causing a lytic/necrotic cell death with rapid presence of disintegrated outer membrane, accompanied by internalization of small molecules such as propidium iodide into the cells. Furthermore, artificial liposomal membrane assay showed that hassallidin D selectively targets sterol-containing membranes. Finally, in silico membrane modeling allowed us to study the interaction between hassallidin D and membranes in detail, and confirm the role of cholesterol for hassallidin-insertion into the membrane. This study demonstrates the mechanism of action of the natural compound hassallidin, and gives further insight into how bioactive lipopeptide metabolites selectively target eukaryotic cell membranes.
  • Wood, Steffaney (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Cyanobacteria of the order Nostocales, including Baltic Sea bloom-forming species Nodularia spumigena, Aphanizomenon flosaquae, Dolichospermum spp., produce resting stages, known as akinetes, under unfavorable conditions. These akinetes can persist in the sediment and germinate if favorable conditions return, simultaneously representing past blooms and possibly contributing to future bloom formation. The present study characterized cyanobacterial akinete survival, germination, and potential toxin production in 40-to-175- year-old brackish water sediment archives in order to understand historical bloom expansion, akinete persistence, and cyanobacteria life cycles in the northern Baltic Sea. Results showed that cyanobacterial akinetes can persist in and germinate from northern Baltic Sea sediment up to 424 and 174 years old, at coastal and open-sea locations respectively. Akinete abundance and viability decreased with age and depth of vertical sediment layers. Increases in sediment organic matter content and akinete abundance largely corresponded with the historical expansion of anthropogenic eutrophication-fueled blooms of cyanobacteria in the northern Baltic Sea, beginning in the mid-twentieth century. The detection of potential hepatotoxin production from akinetes and revived cultures was minimal and restricted to the coastal sediment core. Phylogenetic analysis of culturable cyanobacteria from the coastal sediment core indicated that the majority of strains likely belonged to benthic genera Anabaena. Findings also supported the notion that, in comparison with Nodularia and Aphanizomenon spp. akinetes, Anabaena/Dolichospermum spp. akinetes play a more significant role in their life cycle and bloom initiation strategies. Further research is recommended to accurately quantify akinetes and create a higher rate of toxin gene detection from brackish water sediment samples in order to further describe species-specific benthic archives of cyanobacteria. Overall, measuring cyanobacterial akinete abundance, germination experiments, and genetic methods can be effectively used to determine akinete persistence, viability, and potential toxin production in brackish water sediment samples. This study highlights the prolonged survival of cyanobacterial akinetes in northern Baltic Sea sediment samples, up to 174 years old.
  • Sivonen, Kaarina; Leikoski, Niina; Fewer, David P.; Jokela, Jouni (2010)
  • Jones, Martin R.; Pinto, Ernani; Torres, Mariana A.; Dörr, Fabiane; Mazur-Marzec, Hanna; Szubert, Karolina; Tartaglione, Luciana; Dell'Aversano, Carmela; Miles, Christopher O.; Beach, Daniel G.; McCarron, Pearse; Sivonen, Kaarina; Fewer, David P.; Jokela, Jouni; Janssen, Elisabeth M.-L. (2021)
    Harmful cyanobacterial blooms, which frequently contain toxic secondary metabolites, are reported in aquatic environments around the world. More than two thousand cyanobacterial secondary metabolites have been reported from diverse sources over the past fifty years. A comprehensive, publically-accessible database detailing these secondary metabolites would facilitate research into their occurrence, functions and toxicological risks. To address this need we created CyanoMetDB, a highly curated, flat-file, openly-accessible database of cyanobacterial secondary metabolites collated from 850 peer-reviewed articles published between 1967 and 2020. CyanoMetDB contains 2010 cyanobacterial metabolites and 99 structurally related compounds. This has nearly doubled the number of entries with complete literature metadata and structural composition information compared to previously available open access databases. The dataset includes microcytsins, cyanopeptolins, other depsipeptides, anabaenopeptins, microginins, aeruginosins, cyclamides, cryptophycins, saxitoxins, spumigins, microviridins, and anatoxins among other metabolite classes. A comprehensive database dedicated to cyanobacterial secondary metabolites facilitates: (1) the detection and dereplication of known cyanobacterial toxins and secondary metabolites; (2) the identification of novel natural products from cyanobacteria; (3) research on biosynthesis of cyanobacterial secondary metabolites, including substructure searches; and (4) the investigation of their abundance, persistence, and toxicity in natural environments.
  • Fastner, Jutta; Teikari, Jonna; Hoffmann, Anja; Köhler, Antje; Hoppe, Sebastian; Dittmann, Elke; Welker, Martin (2023)
    Fatal dog poisoning after uptake of neurotoxic cyanobacteria associated with aquatic macrophytes in Tegeler See (Berlin, Germany) raised concerns about critical exposure of humans, especially children, to cyanotoxins produced by macrophyte associated cyanobacteria during recreational activity. From 2017 to 2021 a total of 398 samples of macrophytes washed ashore at bathing sites located at 19 Berlin lakes were analysed for anatoxins, microcystins, and cylindrospermopsins, as were 463 water samples taken in direct proximity to macrophyte accumulations. Cyanotoxins were detected in 66 % of macrophyte samples and 50 % of water samples, with anatoxins being the most frequently detected toxin group in macrophyte samples (58 %) and cylindrospermopsins in water samples (41 %). Microcoleus sp. associated with the water moss Fontinalis antipyretica was identified as anatoxin producing cyanobacterium in isolated strains as well as in field samples from Tegeler See. Anatoxin contents in macrophyte samples rarely exceeded 1 μg/g macrophyte fresh weight and peaked at 9. 2 μg/g f.w. Based on established toxicological points of departure, a critical anatoxin content of macrophyte samples of 3 μg/g f.w. is proposed. Five samples, all taken in Tegeler See and all associated with the water moss Fontinalis antipyretica, exceeded this value. Contents and concentrations of microcystins and cylindrospermopsins did not reach critical levels. The potential exposure risks to anatoxins for children and dogs are assessed and recommendations are given.
  • Hanski, Kirsi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to global health due to overuse and misuse of antibiotics leading to untreatable or difficult to treat infections. Natural environments are an important reservoir of antibiotic resistance. The release of antibiotics into the environment promotes the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and environmental occurrence of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). ARGs are common in nature and prevalent in aquatic environments such as surface waters and effluent. Cyanobacteria are widely found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. Since their ubiquitous presence in water environments cyanobacteria are exposed to antibiotic pollution and are in contact with resistant bacteria. The role of cyanobacteria in the antimicrobial resistome and dissemination of ARGs has only been studied recently. This work aimed to evaluate the antibiotic susceptibilities of 51 cyanobacterial strains against different classes of antibiotics, using liquid batch cultures, antibiotic discs, and bioinformatics approaches. Cyanobacterial strains used in this work were sensitive to most of the tested antibiotics. However, majority of the strains also showed resistance against trimethoprim and novobiocin. Overall, there was little variation in the antibiotic resistances observed between strains but differences in sensitivity to different antibiotics was observed between species and strains with most differences seen with Nostoc spp. According to bioinformatic tools used (CARD database and BLASTp) FosA protein was found only in strains showing resistance against fosfomycin but not in any sensitive phenotypes and therefore fosA gene was selected as the most promising putative resistance gene for subsequent assays. To determine whether the fosA from cyanobacteria could confer resistance to fosfomycin, the fosA gene from Nostoc sp. XPORK 5A was cloned into pET28a(+) expression vector under the control of T7 promoter and subsequently native cyanobacterial promoter. The ability of Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3) carrying each plasmid constructs to grow in the presence of fosfomycin was determined with agar plates and growth curve assay. E. coli transformants containing the fosA gene and T7 promoter conferred high-level resistance to fosfomycin showing ability to grow at the highest concentrations tested (1mg/ml) on agar plates and (500 µg/ml) in growth curve assay. FosA protein expression from the native cyanobacterial promoter appeared to be weaker and conferred lower-level resistance to fosfomycin (≥ 10 µg/ml). The results of this study provide more information about the antibiotic susceptibility of cyanobacteria. In addition, replicating a horizontal transfer of the fosA gene from cyanobacteria to proteobacteria conferred resistance to fosfomycin and these results may indicate that also nonpathogenic cyanobacteria could act as a source of fosA antibiotic resistance genes.
  • Farrar, Zoe May (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Mycosporine-like Amino Acids (MAAs) are small, secondary metabolites, with the ability to absorb UV light. They are produced by cyanobacteria to act as a sunscreen. The aim of this study was to catalogue MAA genetic and chemical diversity in strains of the cyanobacterial genus Nostoc. MAAs were detected in 21 of the 68 Nostoc strains using LC/MS. Fifty four different MAAs were detected across the Nostoc strains. Glycosylated MAAs were detected in 17 of the 21 strains with hexose being the most commonly occurring sugar. Surprisingly, two structurally distinct MAAs were detected from a lichen symbiont strain, Nostoc sp. UHCC 0926. Chemical analysis detected a theoretical methylated and glycosylated variant (m/z 583, C23H39N2O15), and a suspected tri-core variant (m/z 757, C34H53N4O15) with three chromophore rings as opposed to one which is typically found. The glycosylated MAA was predicted to have a hexenimine core which was methylated and had two hexose moieties. The tri-core consisted of 2 aminohexenone cores, one on either side of a central aminohexenimine core. An 8.3 Mb draft genome sequence was obtained to identify the MAA biosynthetic gene cluster responsible for the biosynthesis of these two unusual MAAs. This resulted in the detection of two gene clusters mysA-B-C1 and mysD-C2-C3. This gene cluster organisation was compared with those of other Nostoc strains. The gene cluster organization in Nostoc sp. UHCC 0926 was unique because it was the only strain to have two gene clusters and three mysC genes despite one of the other Nostocs having the ability to produce a tri-core MAA. The strain was cultured and harvested to allow for the extraction and purification of the target MAAs. The tri-core MAA structure was confirmed by NMR. However only a putative structure for the glycosylated MAA was made. The UV absorption spectrum of the tri-core MAA had an absorption maximum at 312 nm while the glycosylated and methylated MAA had an absorption maximum at 336 nm. The investigation into the MAA production of UHCC strains expands the known chemical and genetic diversity of MAAs produced by strains of the Nostoc genus.
  • Taipale, S. J.; Kuoppamaki, K.; Strandberg, U.; Peltomaa, E.; Vuorio, K. (2020)
    Food quality is one of the key factors influencing zooplankton population dynamics. Eutrophication drives phytoplankton communities toward the dominance of cyanobacteria, which means a decrease in the availability of sterols and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPA and DHA). The effects of different restoration measures on the nutritional quality of the phytoplankton community and subsequent impacts on zooplankton biomass have rarely been considered. We analyzed the nutritional quality of phytoplankton in the eutrophic Lake Vesijarvi in southern Finland over a 37-year period, and studied the impacts of two restoration measures, biomanipulation and hypolimnetic aeration, on the abundance of high-quality phytoplankton. We found that biomanipulation had a positive impact on the abundance of taxa synthesizing sterols, EPA, and DHA and, concurrently, on the biomass of the keystone speciesDaphnia. In contrast, hypolimnetic aeration did not result in such a beneficial outcome, manifested as a decrease in the abundance ofDaphniaand frequent phytoplankton blooms dominated by cyanobacteria suggesting reduction in the nutritional quality of food forDaphnia. Our analysis shows that the determination of the nutritional value of algae and the contribution of essential fatty acids and sterols is an effective method to evaluate the success of various restoration measures.
  • Shrestha, Rashmi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Inorganic phosphate (Pi) is the only readily utilizable form of phosphorus for toxic diazotrophic cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena (N. spumigena). Pi is one of the limiting nutrients in the Baltic Sea where surprisingly N. spumigena are highly abundant especially during the summer. This indicates that N. spumigena possibly has an alternative pathway to fulfill its phosphorus requirement. The Baltic Sea, like most aquatic environments, is enriched with organic phosphorus compounds among which phosphonates may constitute a significant fraction. Interestingly, the Baltic Sea N. spumigena strains UHCC 0039 and CCY9414 have been found to carry phosphonate degrading gene cluster (phnC-M) implying that these cyanobacteria could assimilate phosphonates as a phosphorus source. However, the significance of the presence of phn gene cluster in N. spumigena for phosphonate utilization has not been investigated in detail. Here, I aimed to understand how N. spumigena copes with Pi limitation and utilizes phosphonates in laboratory conditions using biochemical assays, PCR-based methods and bioinformatics tools. This would aid in finding a suitable marker for Pi deficiency in cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea. In this study, bioinformatics and PCR screening showed that phn gene cluster was conserved in the Baltic Sea N. spumigena strains. The studied N. spumigena strains UHCC 0039 and UHCC 0060 were found to utilize naturally produced low molecular weight phosphonates, methylphosphonate (MPn), ethylphosphonate (EPn) and 2-aminoethylphosphonate (2APn). Among these phosphonates, MPn seemed to be the most preferred phosphorus source. Alkaline phosphatase activity, an indicator of Pi limitation, was found to be elevated in the media with Pi and 2APn questioning its suitability as a marker for phosphorus limitation. In addition, growth on MPn released methane indicating that massive blooms of N. spumigena might contribute to an elevated methane supersaturation in the Baltic Sea. Reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) in N. spumigena strains did not show expected upregulation of high-affinity phosphate transporter pstS in Pi limitation. It demonstrated an induction of phosphonate transporter gene phnD in media lacking Pi and supplemented by 2APn. The phosphonate lyase gene phnJ was however, upregulated only in the presence of MPn suggesting that phnJ gene could be used as a marker for phosphonate bioavailability. The findings from this study suggest that the presence of phn gene cluster could provide N. spumigena a competitive advantage in Pi-limited cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea. The molecular detection methods designed in this study thus could be used in future to monitor the expression of genes induced during Pi limitation and the presence of phosphonates, and the method could be further optimized for screening natural water samples.
  • Juriado, Inga; Kaasalainen, Ulla; Jylhä, Maarit J; Rikkinen, Jouko (2019)
    We studied the genotype diversity of cyanobacterial symbionts in the predominately terricolous cyanolichen genus Peltigera (Peltigerales, Lecanoromycetes) in Estonia. Our sampling comprised 252 lichen specimens collected in grasslands and forests from different parts of the country, which represented all common Peltigera taxa in the region. The cyanobacteria were grouped according to their tRNA(Leu) (UAA) intron sequences, and mycobiont identities were confirmed using fungal ITS sequences. The studied Peltigera species associated with 34 different "Peltigera-type" Nostoc trnL genotypes. Some Peltigera species associated with one or a few trnL genotypes while others associated with a much wider range of genotypes. Mycobiont identity was the primary factor that determined the presence of the specific Nostoc genotype within the studied Peltigera thalli. However, the species-specific patterns of cyanobiont selectivity did not always reflect phylogenetic relationships among the studied fungal species but correlated instead with habitat preferences. Several taxa from different sections of the genus Peltigera were associated with the same Nostoc genotype or with genotypes in the same habitat, indicating the presence of functional guild structure in the photobiont community. Some Nostoc trnL genotypes were only found in the Peltigera species of moist and mesic forest environments, while another set of Nostoc genotypes was typically found in the Peltigera species of xeric habitats. Some Nostoc trnL genotypes were only found in the Peltigera taxa that are common on alvars and may have specialized to living in this unusual and threatened habitat type. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd and British Mycological Society. All rights reserved.
  • Lynch, Fiona; Santana-Sanchez, Anita; Jämsä, Mikael; Sivonen, Anna Kaarina; Aro, Eva-Mari; Allahverdiyeva, Yagut (2015)
    The value and efficiency of microalgal biofuel production can be improved in an integrated system using waste streams as feed-stock, with fuel-rich biomass and treated wastewater being key end-products. We have evaluated seven native cyanobacterial isolates and one native green alga for their nutrient removal, biomass accumulation and lipid production capacities. All native isolates were successfully grown on synthetic wastewater mimicking secondary treated municipal wastewater (without organic carbon). Complete phosphate removal was achieved by the native green alga, isolated from Tvarminne (SW Finland). Optimisation of the C:N ratio available to this strain was achieved by addition of 3% CO2 and resulted in complete ammonium removal in synthetic wastewater. The native green alga demonstrated similar nutrient removal rates and even stronger growth in screened municipal wastewater, which had double the ammonium concentration of the synthetic media and also contained organic carbon. Sequencing of the genes coding for 18S small rRNA subunit and the ITS1 spacer region of this alga placed it in the Scenedesmaceae family. The lipid content of native isolates was evaluated using BODIPY (505/515) staining combined with high-throughput flow cytometry, where the native green alga demonstrated significantly greater neutral lipid accumulation than the cyanobacteria under the conditions studied. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
  • Esterhuizen-Londt, Maranda; Baik, Seungyun; Kwon, Kyu-Sang; Ha, Mi-Hee; Oh, Hee-Mock; Pflugmacher, Stephan (2018)
    Objective: The increasing world population, resulting in increased anthropogenic water pollution, is negatively impacting the limited available water resources. In South Korea, this similarly affects the water quality of reservoirs. As water is a basic necessity for life, water quality monitoring is essential but typically does not include toxicity testing. However, as toxic bloom event frequencies are increasing, this previously neglected aspect becomes pertinent. Therefore, in the present study, the toxin composition and toxicity of a Microcystis aeruginosa strain isolated from a persistent bloom in lake Wangsong, South Korea, was investigated. Methods: A combination of bioassays and chemical analysis was used for this purpose. The bioassay species included terrestrial and aquatic plants, an alga, a rotifer, a tubificid annelid, and crustaceans, representing various trophic levels. Results: The strain was found to produce microcystin-LR, -RR, and YR, as well as β-N-methylamino-L-alanine. The bioassays indicated that the primary producers were less sensitive to the crude extract. Conclusion: The presence or absence of a visible cyanobacterial bloom is also not an indication of the toxins that may be present in the afflicted waters, and thus does not predict exposure risk. Similarly, the presence and absence of toxins and mixtures thereof do not indicate the ecological effect. Therefore, it would be advantages to include toxicity testing into routine water testing regimes to better understand the impact of harmful algal blooms.
  • Esterhuizen-Londt, Maranda; Pflugmacher, Stephan (2019)
    Bioaccumulation and biomagnification of β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a potent neurotoxin, has been demonstrated in various food webs. It is alarming as this intensification of BMAA will result in exposure to higher concentrations from a direct cyanobacterial source. As more food items are being identified as a source of BMAA and with the large variations in BMAA content, the aim of the present study was to evaluate BMAA uptake by, and accumulation in, two commonly consumed vegetables, Lactuca sativa and Allium fistulosum. Plants exposed to pure BMAA in controlled laboratory experiments, as well as vegetables naturally irrigated with water containing a BMAA producing cyanobacterial bloom were evaluated during growth and ripening. In the laboratory exposures, free BMAA was detected in both the edible ripe parts of L. sativa and A. fistulosum after 60 days of exposure to a total of 4.5 µg BMAA. However, in the bloom exposure samples no BMAA could be detected in the ripe vegetables of A. fistulosum, Cucurbita pepo, or Brassica rapa chinensis. The study emphasises the need to further screen items for BMAA to understand the human exposure risk as well as the difference between BMAA uptake patterns with free BMAA and that contained in cyanobacterial cells.
  • Wang, Hao (Helsingfors universitet, 2008)
    Anabaena is a common member of the phytoplankton in lakes, reservoirs and ponds throughout the world. This is a filamentous, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterial genus and is frequently present in the lakes of Finland. Anabaena sp. strain 90 was isolated from Lake Vesijärvi and produces microcystins, anabaenopeptilides and anabaenopeptins. A whole genome shotgun sequencing project was undertaken to obtain the complete genome of this organism in order to better understand the physiology and environmental impact of toxic cyanobacteria. This work describes the genome assembly and finishing, the genome structure, and the results of intensive computational analysis of the Anabaena sp. strain 90 genome. Altogether 119,316 sequence reads were generated from 3 genomic libraries with 2, 6 and 40 kb inserts from high throughput Sanger sequencing. The software package Phred/Phrap/Consed was used for whole genome assembly and finishing. A combinatorial PCR method was used to establish relationships between remaining contigs after thorough scaffolding and gap-filling. The final assembly results show that there is a single 4.3 Mb circular chromosome and 4 circular plasmids with sizes of 820, 80, 56 and 20 kb respectively. Together, these 4 plasmids comprise nearly one-fifth of the total genome. Genomic variations in the form of 79 single nucleotide polymorphisms and 3 sequence indels were identified from the assembly results. Sequence analysis revealed that 7.5 percent of the Anabaena sp. strain 90 genome consists of repetitive DNA elements. The genome sequence of Anabaena sp. strain 90 provides a more solid basis for further studies of bioactive compound production, photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and akinete formation in cyanobacteria.