Identification of Common Noxious Cyanobacteria: Part 2 – Chroococcales and Oscillatoriales

This report was produced for the Urban Water Research Association of Australia, a now discontinued research program.

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Identification of Common Noxious Cyanobacteria: Part 2 – Chroococcales and Oscillatoriales

Report No UWRAA 46

October 1992


This report is the second and final in a series containing the results of an investigation on the taxonomy of noxious blue-green algae(Cyanophyta/Cyanobacteria) in Australian water supplies, funded by the Urban Water Research Association of Australia. Part I of the report was published in June 1991.

The purpose of the project was to morphologically characterise common noxious or nuisance forms of cyanobacteria in Australian water supplies and to establish criteria by which they can be recognised and reliably identified by light microscopy. Particular attention was directed to those forms which are able to form water blooms or unsightly surface scums and may impair water quality by the production of toxins or taste and odour compounds.

The basis for this project was founded on the need to differentiate between inoffensive and noxious forms of cyanobacteria for efficient water quality management. Water supply authorities throughout Australia require a practical guide to the identification of troublesome cyanobacteria encountered locally and need to be able to relate them to existing taxa in the published literature. A final report, in two parts, has been prepared in the form of a practical reference, incorporating descriptions, illustrations, photo-micrographs and identification keys to assist laboratory personnel involved in phytoplankton monitoring.

Cyanobacterial blooms can adversely affect the suitability of water for human consumption, stock watering and recreational use. As there are indications of increasing abundance of these blooms in Australian waters, this issue was seen to be of national significance.

Part II of the report provides taxonomic descriptions of commonly occurring planktonic and bloom-forming cyanobacteria from the families Microcystaceae (order Chroococcales) and Phormidiaceae and Pseudanabaenaceae (order Oscillatoriales), based on the revised classification system of Anagnostiis & Komarek (1986, 1988). Specimens were collected from surface waters in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland. A total of 17 recognised taxa are described from 9 genera. In Part 1, 20 taxa of noxious cyanobacteria in 5 genera of the family Nostocaceae (order Nostrocales)were described from the same geographical area.

Identification keys are provided for genera within each family and to species or sub species level within each genus. None of the described taxa are endemic to Australia and most are considered cosmopolitan in distribution. Several taxa are described for the first time in Australia and approximately 300 original illustrations are included in Parts I and II.

Further study should be directed toward resolving problems in the classification of certain described forms which do not fit the morphological description of existing taxa and to determine whether discernible morphological differences of described taxa represent actual genetic differences.

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