Revealing Toxin Signatures in Cyanobacteria: Report of Genes Involved in Cylindrospermopsin Synthesis from Saxitoxin-Producing Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii


Cyanotoxins are distinctive molecules in Cyanobacteria whose evolutionary origin, radiation and ecological role are still controversial. The cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii is alternately capable of producing two types of potent toxins, cylindrospermopsin (CYN) or saxitoxin and analogues (SAX). It has been proposed that this species spread to all continents early in its evolutionary history and biogeographical differences in toxin production are found between populations. Most reports indicate that American strains are able to produce SAX but not CYN, while Australian strains are described to produce CYN but not SAX. Here we describe the presence of three genes belonging to the cylindrospermopsin cluster (cyr), cyrA, cyrB and cyrC, in two SAX producing South American C. raciborskii strains, MVCC14 and MVCC19, which due to their differences in morphology, growth preferences, SAX production and genetic context are defined as different ecotypes. No CYN production was detected in either strain (by ELISA) after growth under nitrogen replete or nitrogen-free nutrient conditions. Phylogenetic analyses of cyrA, cyrB and cyrC partial sequences from both strains showed high similarity (>99%) with CYN genes belonging to C. raciborskii strains from Australia and Germany and to Aphanizomenon strains. This is the first report of the presence of cyr genes in strains known to produce only SAX.

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C. Piccini, L. Aubriot, B. D’Alessandro, F. Martigani and S. Bonilla, "Revealing Toxin Signatures in Cyanobacteria: Report of Genes Involved in Cylindrospermopsin Synthesis from Saxitoxin-Producing Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii," Advances in Microbiology, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2013, pp. 289-296. doi: 10.4236/aim.2013.33041.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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