Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Killer Algae's 'Fingerprints' Wrap Up The Case

Date:
May 30, 2008
Source:
University of Kalmar
Summary:
Phytoplankton are microscopic plants that are the base of the food chain in oceans and lakes. Some phytoplankton can produce toxins that are harmful to other marine organisms, including fish. Researchers have studied the DNA of phytoplankton in order to identify and quantify different types of harmful phytoplankton species. New work forms a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding when and how harmful phytoplankton species, such as e.g. the "killer algae" become dominant and threaten to kill off fish.

Phytoplankton are microscopic plants that are the base of the food chain in oceans and lakes. Some phytoplankton can produce toxins that are harmful to other marine organisms, including fish. Holly A. Bowers of the University of Kalmar in Sweden has studied the DNA of phytoplankton in order to identify and quantify different types of harmful phytoplankton species. Her work is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding when and how harmful phytoplankton species, such as e.g. the “killer algae” become dominant and threaten to kill off fish.

Just like plants on land, phytoplankton is an important source of nutrition for other organisms and is responsible for the major part of the global primary production. Sometimes the phytoplankton toxins can be so potent that they can cause severe illness and even death in humans. Authorities, administrators, and researchers are interested in methods that can rapidly locate harmful phytoplankton species. Since phytoplankton species are tiny, 1-100 thousandths of a mm, and several of them look similar, it is difficult to distinguish various species in a microscope. One way to get around this is to analyze their DNA.

“DNA is species-specific and is similar to a fingerprint, which makes it possible to distinguish between different species,” says Holly A. Bowers.

One way to analyze DNA is through real-time PCR, where you dye the DNA of a single species with a fluorescent preparation. The light can then be measured, and more light means more cells of the species there are in the water sample.

Holly A. Bowers’ doctoral thesis describes how real-time PCR has been adapted to quickly and reliably identify and estimate a number of harmful phytoplankton species quantities present in the water. The DNA tests that Holly A. Bowers developed for her thesis are now used in several places around the world, especially in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, U.S. The findings of the DNA tests have helped researchers, authorities, and administrators to understand the spread of harmful phytoplankton species.

The part of the doctoral work carried out in the U.S. mainly focused on identifying harmful species as part of a state-sponsored monitoring program. In Kalmar, Sweden, the DNA tests were used to study the feeding behavior of a phytoplankton species responsible for fish kills in coastal waters around the world, including the Baltic outside Kalmar.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kalmar. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Kalmar. "Killer Algae's 'Fingerprints' Wrap Up The Case." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527211502.htm>.
University of Kalmar. (2008, May 30). Killer Algae's 'Fingerprints' Wrap Up The Case. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527211502.htm
University of Kalmar. "Killer Algae's 'Fingerprints' Wrap Up The Case." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527211502.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins