Dr Kanako Ishikawa from Lake Biwa Environmental Research Institute, Otsu, Japan, visited Dr Anne D Jungblut (NHM Life Sciences Department) in April 2012 as part of a project supported by a Daiwa Foundation Small Grant that aims to establish a Lake Biwa periphyton species list and carry out public engagement events on biodiversity, management and conservation of Lake Biwa, Japan.
Proliferation of macrophytes and periphyton in Lake Biwa
Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan and one of the twenty oldest lakes in the world. It has many endemic species, and supplies 14 million people with drinking water including the megalopolises Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe Cities. It is a breeding ground for freshwater fish and supports commercial fishing.
Microalgae such as cyanobacteria and green algae growing on leaves and stems of submerged water plants (macrophytes) or rock surface are defined as periphyton. These microalgae are not only an important food source for fish and other animals, but can also become nuisance for fishing equipment, water supply system and leisure activities.
In recent years macrophytes have become highly abundant in Lake Biwa and as a consequence periphyton growth has dramatically increased. However, little is still known about the species diversity of Lake Biwa periphyton, in particular the presence of non-native and potentially harmful species. During the visit, Kanako Ishikawa and Anne Jungblut carried out DNA-based analyses on periphyton samples collected from Lake Biwa using culture-independent methods.
Anne Jungblut will visit the research laboratory of Dr. Kanako Ishikawa (Lake Biwa Environmental Research Institute) and Dr Taisuke Ohtsuka (Lake Biwa Museum) in Shiga prefecture, Japan, in July.