• Open Access

Genotype × genotype interactions between the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis and its grazer, the waterflea Daphnia


Veerle Lemaire, Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, K.U.Leuven, Ch. Deberiotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Tel.: +32 16 32 39 66;
fax: +32 16 32 45 75;
e-mail: veerle.lemaire@bio.kuleuven.be


Toxic algal blooms are an important problem worldwide. The literature on toxic cyanobacteria blooms in inland waters reports widely divergent results on whether zooplankton can control cyanobacteria blooms or cyanobacteria suppress zooplankton by their toxins. Here we test whether this may be due to genotype × genotype interactions, in which interactions between the large-bodied and efficient grazer Daphnia and the widespread cyanobacterium Microcystis are not only dependent on Microcystis strain or Daphnia genotype but are specific to genotype × genotype combinations. We show that genotype × genotype interactions are important in explaining mortality in short-time exposures of Daphnia to Microcystis. These genotype × genotype interactions may result in local coadaptation and a geographic mosaic of coevolution. Genotype × genotype interactions can explain why the literature on zooplankton–cyanobacteria interactions is seemingly inconsistent, and provide hope that zooplankton can contribute to the suppression of cyanobacteria blooms in restoration projects.