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Investigating the Use of qPCR to Predict Microcystin Production by Cyanobacteria in Wyoming Lakes

Antinoro, Abigail
The occurrence of cyanobacterial blooms in bodies of water around the world has been increasing over the past several decades. Since some of these blooms produce toxins, concern for human and animal health has created an increased need for efficient water monitoring strategies. Current toxin monitoring methods are expensive and time consuming, and they have no ability to predict a rise in toxins. The goal of this research was to identify any relationships between mcyE gene count, a proxy measurement for toxin producing cells, and microcystin toxin concentration over time, and to subsequently investigate the use of qPCR as a means of predicting toxin production by blooms. To accomplish this, daily samples were collected from an active bloom in West Granite Springs Reservoir, as well as from cultures grown from the lake’s microbiota. Microcystin concentration in the samples was measured using ELISA and mcyE gene count was obtained using qPCR. Microcystin concentration and mcyE count were compared over a period of eight days, and no significant relationship was found between mcyE count and future microcystin concentration in the reservoir or the culture.
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