Our previous work revealed that Acacia mearnsii extract can inhibit the growth of Microcystis aeruginosa, the common species forming toxic cyanobacterial blooms in eutrophic freshwater. In the present study, we demonstrated that this plant extract can significantly increase cell membrane permeability and Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase activity on the membrane. Long-term exposure to concentrations of 20 ppm A. mearnsii extract led to algal cell membrane leakage or even lysis. Comparison of expression of three photosynthesis-related genes (rbcL, psaB and psbD) in M. aeruginosa with and without plant extract treatment revealed that their expression was remarkably reduced in the presence of the extract. Down-regulation of photosynthesis-related genes could indicate the inhibition of the photosynthetic process. Thus, our results suggested that both photosynthetic systems and membranes of M. aeruginosa are potentially damaged by A. mearnsii extract.

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