Dreissenid (quagga and zebra mussel) veligers are adversely affected by bloom forming cyanobacteria.
Quagga (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) and zebra (D. polymorpha) mussels are broadcast spawners that produce planktonic, free swimming veligers, a life history strategy dissimilar to native North American freshwater bivalves. Dreissenid veligers require highly nutritious food to grow and survive, and thus may be susceptible to increased mortality rates during harsh environmental conditions like cyanobacteria blooms. However, the impact of cyanobacteria and one of the toxins they can produce (microcystin) has not been evaluated in dreissenid veligers. Therefore, we exposed dreissenid veligers to eleven distinct cultures (isolates) of cyanobacteria representing Anabaena, Aphanizomenon, Dolichospermum, Microcystis, and Planktothrix species and the cyanotoxin microcystin to determine the lethality of cyanobacteria on dreissenid veligers. Six-day laboratory bioassays were performed in microplates using dreissenid veligers collected from the Detroit River, Michigan, USA. Veligers were exposed to increasing concentrations of cyanobacteria and microcystin using the green algae Chlorella minutissima as a control. Based on dose response curves formulated from a Probit model, the LC50 values for cyanobacteria used in this study range between 15.06 and 135.06 µg/L chlorophyll-a, with the LC50 for microcystin-LR at 13.03 µg/L. Because LC50 values were within ranges observed in natural waterbodies, it is possible that dreissenid recruitment may be suppressed when veliger abundances overlap with seasonal cyanobacteria blooms. Thus, the toxicity of cyanobacteria to dreissenid veligers may be useful to include in models forecasting dreissenid mussel abundance and spread.