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Keywords:

  • blue-green algae;
  • cyanobacterial bloom;
  • grazing;
  • microcystin;
  • Microcystis;
  • pond;
  • tadpole;
  • trophic relationship

SUMMARY

Tadpoles of Rana grylio were raised as edible frogs in fishponds of Guanqiao in Wuhan City, Hubei, China, during cyanobacterial blooms from June to October. The dominant cyanobacterial species was Microcystis, which was found to be lethally toxic by intraperitoneal (i.p.) mouse bioassay. Little is known about the effect of tadpoles on toxic cyanobacterial blooms. To evaluate the potential of the tadpoles to graze on cyanobacterial blooms, the tadpoles were fed on Microcystis collected from the field in the laboratory. The Microcystis cells decreased from 1.19 × 107 cells mL−1 to 3.23 × 106 cells mL−1, with a sharp reduction of 73% of the initial Microcystis population observed in the first 24 h after introduction of the tadpoles. The ponds containing tadpoles had a markedly lower density of Microcystis than those lacking tadpoles. Tadpoles exposed to either cultured Microcystis aeruginosa (NIES–90, 2.768 µg microcystins mg–1 dw–1) cells or lysed M. aeruginosa cells grew well, however, indicating that they were unaffected by Microcystis toxins. We found a significant increase in tadpole body weight after feeding on either field Microcystis or cultured M. aeruginosa. The mean increase in individual body weight was 20 mg day−1 when fed on Microcystis from the pond, and 7 mg day−1 when fed on M. aeruginosa from culture. Our study strongly suggested that there is a direct trophic relationship between R. grylio tadpoles and toxic Microcystis blooms and they possess the potential to graze on toxic Microcystis. The results imply that R. grylio tadpoles may play an important ecological role in reducing toxic cyanobacterial blooms caused by Microcystis.