Document Type



Quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) are highly fecund broadcast spawners invasive to freshwaters of North America and western Europe. We hypothesized that environmental cues from phytoplankton can trigger gamete release in quagga mussels. Nutritious algae may stimulate dreissenid spawning, but less palatable food, such as bloom-forming cyanobacteria, could be a hindrance. The objective of our study was to test whether exposure to cyanobacteria can inhibit quagga mussel spawning and fertilization. We assessed spawning in the presence of serotonin, a known spawning inducer, where adult quagga mussels placed in individual vials were exposed to 13 cyanobacteria cultures and purified algal toxin (microcystin-LR) with artificial lake water as the control. Fertilization success was evaluated by combining eggs with sperm in conjunction with cyanobacteria, and enumerating zygote formation marked by cellular cleavage. Several cyanobacterial strains reduced spawning and fertilization success, but microcystin-LR had no effect. Fertilization was more sensitive to cyanobacteria than gamete release. Only 1 culture, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, inhibited spawning, whereas 6 cultures consisting of Anabaena flos-aquae, Dolichospermum lemmermanii, Gloeotrichia echinulata, Lyngbya wollei, and 2 Microcystis aeruginosa isolates reduced fertilization rates by up to 44%. The effects of cyanobacteria on reproduction in invasive freshwater mussels in the wild have not yet been identified. However, our laboratory studies show that concentrations of cyanobacteria that are possible during bloom conditions probably limit reproduction. Reproductive consequences on wild populations may become more prevalent as cyanobacteria blooms occur earlier in the year, making overlap between blooms and mussel spawning more common. Describing the mechanism by which cyanobacteria inhibit spawning and fertilization could reveal novel control methods to limit reproduction of this invasive species.


Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies | Geology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


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