Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Thirst For Blood Sparks Toxic Algal Blooms

Date:
June 30, 2009
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
The blooming of toxic algae that occurs during the summer conceal a fight for life and death. Scientists now propose that algal blooms are created when aggressive algae kill and injure their competitors in order to absorb the nutrients they contain.

A light microscopy image of the microalga Chrysochromulina palpebralis.
Credit: Sergio Seoane

The blooming of toxic algae that occurs during the summer conceal a fight for life and death. Scientists at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, propose in an article published in the journal PNAS that algal blooms are created when aggressive algae kill and injure their competitors in order to absorb the nutrients they contain.

Related Articles


"The behaviour of the algae can be compared to that of blood-sucking insects", says Per Jonsson of the Department of Marine Ecology.

The blooming of toxic algae in the oceans and lakes is a familiar health risk and causes problems every summer, leading to increased costs for water cleaning, water consumption and the tourist industry. Scientists still do not know why algal blooms arise, and what it is that causes certain species of microalgae to multiply and form dense blooms.

New explanation

Scientists within the research platform MARICE (Marine Chemical Ecology) at the Faculty of Science, the University of Gothenburg, present a new possible explanation of why algal blooms arise in a study published in the international journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Other factors

Current theory postulates that the algae produce toxins not only in order to inhibit the growth of competing species, but also to protect themselves from predators. The strategy of inhibiting competitors, however, is difficult to explain from an evolutionary perspective. The turbulent ocean surface means, quite simply, that it is difficult for one algal species to obtain exclusive rights on the effect of a toxin that inhibits competitors. The production of the toxin must be explained by other factors.

Kills competitors

Marine ecologist Per Jonsson and his colleagues suggest that the inhibition of competitors that previous research had found is only a side-effect of a considerably more aggressive behaviour: toxic algae injure or kill competing algae in order to gain access to the nutrients in their cells.

Blood-sucking

"The way the algae absorb food is similar to that of blood-sucking insects, such as mosquitoes. Our study shows that this theft of nutrients may be an important mechanism in the formation of blooms of toxic plankton", says Per Jonsson.

"The results will lead to several further experimental studies, and we hope that these will eventually contribute to solving the mystery of how algal blooms arise.".


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Per Jonsson, Henrik Pavia and Gunilla Toth. Formation of harmful algal blooms cannot be explained by allelopathic interactions. PNAS, 15 June, 2009

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Thirst For Blood Sparks Toxic Algal Blooms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630075317.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2009, June 30). Thirst For Blood Sparks Toxic Algal Blooms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630075317.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Thirst For Blood Sparks Toxic Algal Blooms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630075317.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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