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.

"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 July 28, 2014 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 July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. 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