Microcystins produced by cyanobacteria pose a great threat to human health by releasing toxins upon cell death. In the present study, we studied microcystin production in the cyanobacterial strains Anabaena cylindrica (B629 and 2949) and Fremyella diplosiphon (SF33) exposed to 1, 2 and 4 g/L sodium chloride (NaCl). Cultures grown for 7 days in BG11/HEPES medium were pelleted, re-grown in the corresponding NaCl levels, and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) performed. ELISA assays revealed enhanced microcystin production in A. cylindrica B629 exposed to 4 g/L NaCl and A. cylindrica 29414 exposed to 2 and 4 g/L NaCl, after growth in the corresponding NaCl levels for 14 days. We observed a significant decrease (p >0.05) in microcystin levels in the control strains after exposure to NaCl for 5 days. After exposure to 1, 2, or 4 g/L NaCl for 10 days, no microcystin release was observed in A. cylindrica B629, A. cylindrica 29414 or F. diplosiphon SF33. Sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis identified the presence of an additional band at 120 - 130 kDa in A. cylindrica B629 exposed to 2 and 4 g/L NaCl, and at 14 kDa in cultures amended with 1 and 2 g/L NaCl as well as the untreated control, indicating that exposure to salinity induces alterations in protein expression.
Keywords: Cyanotoxin; ELISA; Harmful Algal Blooms; Protein Expression; Sodium Chloride.