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Microcystis is a genus of freshwater cyanobacteria which includes the harmful algal bloom Microcystis aeruginosa. The cyanobacteria can produce neurotoxins and hepatotoxins, such as microcystin and cyanopeptolin.
Many (see below)
The genus Microcystis derives from the Greek mikros ("small") + kystis ("bladder")
As the etymological derivation implies, Microcystis is characterized by small cells (a few micrometers in diameter), possessing gas filled vesicles (also lacking individual sheaths). The cells are usually organized into colonies (macroscopic aggregations of which are visible with the naked eye) that begin in a spherical shape, losing coherence to become perforated or irregularly shaped over time. These colonies are bound by a thick mucilage composed of complex polysaccharide compounds, including xylose, mannose, glucose, fucose, galactose, rhamnose, among other compounds.
The coloration of the protoplast is a light blue-green, appearing dark or brown due to optical effects of gas-filled vesicles; this can be useful as a distinguishing characteristic when using light microscopy.
Microcystis is capable of producing large surface blooms through a combination of rapid division and buoyancy regulation by production of gas-filled vesicles. Their ability to regulate buoyancy is key to their dominance of eutrophic waters, by optimally positioning themselves within the photic zone in a stable water column.
In South Africa, Hartebeestpoort Dam is highly impacted by Microcystis because of elevated phosphate and nitrate levels flowing from the sewers of Johannesburg, one of the few cities in the world that straddles a continental watershed divide  and therefore lies upstream of major dams and rivers.
Cyanobacteria can produce neurotoxins and hepatotoxins, such as microcystin and cyanopeptolin. Microcystis aeruginosa is a harmful algal bloom and can contaminate drinking water with microcystin.
Among Microcystis species are the following:
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- "On the Evolution of Nonribosomal Peptide Synthetase Gene Clusters in Cyanobacteria". University of Oslo. 2007.
- Karl Gademann, Cyril Portmann, Judith F. Blom, Michael Zeder and Friedrich Jüttner (2010). "Multiple Toxin Production in the Cyanobacterium Microcystis: Isolation of the Toxic Protease Inhibitor Cyanopeptolin 1020". J. Nat. Prod. 73: 980–984. doi:10.1021/np900818c.
- Oberholster, PJ. "Microcystis aeruginosa: source of toxic microcystins in drinking water". African Journal of Biotechnology March 2004 Volume 3 pp 159-168. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- "Taxonomy Browser Genus: Microcystis". Taxonomy Browser Genus: Microcystis. AlgaeBase. Retrieved 24 June 2011.