Study finds golden algae responsible for killing millions of fish less toxic in sunlight

Jun 15, 2011

A new Baylor University study has found that sunlight decreases the toxicity of golden algae, which kills millions of fish in the southern United States every year.

While golden algae is primarily a coastal species, it has been found in Texas rivers and lakes, including Lake Whitney and Lake Waco in Central Texas, and Lake Granbury in North Texas. Experts believe that several environmental factors influence toxin production, but new research from Baylor scientists shows that sunlight is a key component in the magnitude and duration of the toxicity of the algae to fish. Specifically, the study found that the longer golden algae toxins are exposed to natural sunlight, the less toxic the algal toxin becomes to fish and other .

"What we think happens in terms of the large fish kills is that only penetrates down so deep in a lake, so in a lake with golden algae blooms, fish located at greater depths may be exposed to more algal toxins," said study co-author Dr. Bryan Brooks, associate professor of environmental sciences and biomedical studies at Baylor and director of the program. "Golden algae is aggressive and very unique because it can produce its own toxins, swim, photosynthesize and feed on other organisms. If we can figure out what stimulates and decreases the growth of this algae, we might be able to control it."

Along the Brazos River in north and central Texas, at least seven-million fish have been killed since 1988 due to high golden algae levels, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. In fact, in 2005 more than a million died in Whitney over a three-month period. Officials believe large golden contributed to the deaths, attacking the fishes' gills and causing them to suffocate.

The study appears on-line in the Journal of Plankton Research.

Explore further: Stanford researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Experts think toxic algae harming endangered fish

Nov 25, 2009

(AP) -- Scientists say they think toxins from a blue-green algae plaguing lakes and rivers around the West are harming an endangered fish in the Klamath Basin, adding another obstacle to restoring species that have forced ...

Noxious algae gone, but who knows how long

Jan 03, 2007

Recent storms may have washed away algae blooms in a Florida chain of lakes, but experts said algae threats remain because of pollution feeding the lakes.

Algae-Based Biofuel From Fish

Sep 01, 2009

Right now, when biofuel is produced using algae, cultures are grown and then processed into fuel. But the process is expensive and difficult. Now a company in Texas, LiveFuels, Inc., hopes that it will be ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

15 hours ago

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Apr 18, 2014

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.