Effects of elevated nitrogen on the growth and geosmin productivity of Dolichospermum smithii

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Jan;28(1):177-184. doi: 10.1007/s11356-020-10429-4. Epub 2020 Aug 15.


Geosmin is one of the most common earthy-musty odor compounds, which is mainly produced by cyanobacteria in surface water. Nitrogen (N) is an important factor affecting the growth of cyanobacteria and its secondary metabolites production due to the eutrophication. In this study, we compared the effects of elevated N on the growth and geosmin productivity of Dolichospermum smithii NIES-824 (synonym Anabaena smithii NIES-824), aiming to better understand the mechanisms involved and give an important and fundamental knowledge to solve off-flavor problem. Results show that elevated N concentration promoted more chlorophyll a (Chl-a) production, whereas the geosmin synthesis decreased, revealing a possible competitive correlation between the Chl-a concentration and geosmin production of D. smithii NIES-824. The majority of geosmin (> 90%) was retained intracellularly during the 28 days of cultivation. The qRT-PCR analysis demonstrates that the expression level of the geosmin synthase gene (geoA) was constitutive and decreased at the higher N concentration during the exponential growth phase of cyanobacterial cells. Furthermore, the decrease of geoA expression during the decline phase suggested that geoA transcription was closely related to cell activity and isoprenoid productivity.

Keywords: Cyanobacteria; Earthy-musty odor; Geosmin; Nitrogen; geoA Expression.

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophyll A
  • Cyanobacteria*
  • Naphthols
  • Nitrogen*
  • Odorants / analysis


  • Naphthols
  • geosmin
  • Nitrogen
  • Chlorophyll A

Supplementary concepts

  • Dolichospermum smithii