A PCR-based method was used to detect toxic cyanobacteria Nodularia spumigena in the diet of Baltic mysids, Mysis mixta and Mysis relicta. The decay in detectability of Nodularia DNA in mysid stomachs and feces following the cyanobacterium consumption was examined in laboratory with special references to (1) marker size (780 by vs. 200 bp), (2) mysid developmental stage (juveniles vs. subadults), and (3) feeding regime after consuming the cyanobacteria (continuous vs. interrupted feeding). The Nodularia DNA could be reliably detected in mysid stomachs and feces by PCR technique. In the mysid with interrupted feeding, the calculated half-lives of N. spumigena DNA in the mysid stomachs were 1.2 and 6.1 h for 780 and 200 by fragments, respectively. Continuous feeding, however, facilitated decay in the detectability, most likely due to increased gut evacuation rate. In stomachs of the field-collected mysids, the Nodularia DNA was detected with high frequencies, 60% in M. mixta and 51 % in M. relicta. Moreover, it was higher in immature mysids than in adults and correlated with stomach fullness in age-specific manner: in juveniles and subadults, stomachs containing Nodularia were significantly fuller, while in adults, the presence of the cyanobacteria was associated with empty stomachs. This suggests greater habitat overlap for juvenile mysids and N. spumigena and thus higher encounter and consumption rates. These findings contribute to a growing body of evidence that cyanobacteria in the Baltic Sea are important food for grazers.
2009. Vol. 8, 264-272 p.