Agent-based modeling of the complex life cycle of a cyanobacterium (Anabaena) in a shallow reservoir

Hellweger, Ferdi L., Elena S. Kravchuk, Vladimir Novotny, Michail I. Gladyshev

Limnol. Oceanogr., 53(4), 2008, 1227-1241 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.4.1227

ABSTRACT: The cyanobacterium Anabaena flos-aquae and many other phytoplankton species have a complex life cycle that includes a resting stage (akinete). We present a new agent-based (also known as individual-based) model of Anabaena that includes the formation and behavior of akinetes. The model is part of a coupled Eulerian-Lagrangian model and can reproduce the main features of the observed seasonal and interannual population dynamics in Bugach Reservoir (Siberia), including an unexpectedly large bloom in a year with low nutrient concentrations. Model analysis shows that the internal loading of phosphorus (P) due to germination from the sediment bed is ~10% of the total input. However, most of the long-term nutrient uptake for Anabaena occurs in the sediment bed, which suggests that the sediment bed is not just a convenient overwintering location but may also be the primary source of nutrients. An in silico tracing experiment showed that most water column cells (~90%) originated from cells located in the sediment bed during the preceding winter. An in silico gene knockout experiment (akinete formation is prohibited) showed that the formation of resting stages is of critical importance to the survival of the population on an annual basis. A nutrient-reduction management scenario indicates that Anabaena densities increase because they are less sensitive to water column nutrient levels (because of the sediment bed source) than other species.

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