Zoological Studies

Vol. 54, 2015

Thicker filaments of Aphanizomenon gracile are more harmful to Daphnia than thinner Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii

Lukasz Wejnerowski*, Slawek Cerbin and Marcin Krzysztof Dziuba

Department of Hydrobiology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, 61-614 Poznań, Poland

Background: Filamentous cyanobacteria are known to negatively affect the life history of planktonic herbivores through mechanical interference with filtering apparatus. Here, we hypothesise that not only the length but alsothe thickness of cyanobacterial filaments is an important factor shaping the life history of Daphnia.
Results: To test our hypothesis, we cultured Daphnia magna with non-toxin-producing strains of either Aphanizomenon gracile or Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii. The former possesses wide filaments, whereas the latter has thinner filaments. The strain of A. gracile has two morphological forms differing in filament widths. The exposure to the thicker A. gracile filaments caused a stronger body-length reduction in females at maturity and a greater  decrease in offspring number than exposure to the thinner C. raciborskii filaments. The width of filaments, however, did not significantly affect the length of newborns. The analysis of mixed thick and thin A. gracile filament width distribution revealed that D. magna reduces the number of thinner filaments, while the proportion of thicker ones increases. Also, the effects of cyanobacterial exudates alone were examined to determine whether the changes in D. magna life history were indeed caused directly by the physical presence of morphologically different filaments and not by confounding effects from metabolite exudation. This experiment demonstrated no negative effects ofboth A. gracile and C. raciborskii exudates.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study that demonstrates that the thickness of a cyanobacterial filament might be an important factor in shaping D. magna’s life history. At a given biomass, thicker filaments of A. gracile were more detrimental to D. magna than thinner ones of C. raciborskii. There was also a strong interaction between species of the cyanobacterium and filament biomass, where species with thicker filaments and at higher biomass had the strongest negative impact on D. magna life history.

Key words: Filter-feeding; Cyanobacterial exudates; Mechanical interference; Daphnia magna filamentous cyanobacteria; Aphanizomenon gracile; Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii; Filament morphology.

*Correspondence: E-mail: wejner@amu.edu.pl