Trace element's central role in harmful algal blooms

Apr 22, 2013
Aerial view of Great South Bay, NY during a brown tide bloom in June 2008. Billions of A. anophagefferens cells per liter crowded into the coastline and turned the water brown. Credit: Suffolk County Department of Health Services

Four years after it first appeared and devastated the scallop industry, the algal masses of Aureococcus anophagefferens that turned the bays of Long Island, NY brown disappeared. The alga's genome sequence was published by a team including researchers from the DOE Joint Genome Institute in 2011.

The phytoplankton can outcompete diatoms in , and the indicated the presence of genes that allowed billions of to form a harmful algal bloom.

In the 2011 article, the team noted that there were many proteins that appeared to require the trace element selenium (Se). Following up on this comment, a paper published online March 7, 2013 in The ISME Journal, researchers focused on these proteins and their roles in . They grew algal cultures with varying concentrations of selenium under conditions mimicking the summer environmental conditions in Long Island estuaries. They found that higher levels of selenium collected in shallow estuaries, allowing the alga to form blooms. Such events were less likely in deeper waters.

"As A. anophagefferens relies on selenoproteins for growth and as a scarcity of Se may prohibit bloom formation in off-shore waters, Se is likely to have a key role in shaping the niche space and bloom occurrences of this species," they wrote. "Moreover, as some phytoplankton do not require Se, Se availability is likely to shape the succession and composition of phytoplankton communities in general."

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

More information: www.nature.com/ismej/journal/v… smej201325a.html#abs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Earth from Space: A southern summer bloom

Jan 16, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- In this Envisat image, a phytoplankton bloom swirls a figure-of-8 in the South Atlantic Ocean about 600 km east of the Falkland Islands.   During this period in the southern hemisphere, ...

Researchers monitor 'red tides' in Chesapeake Bay

Jul 27, 2012

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science continue to monitor the algal blooms that have been discoloring Chesapeake Bay waters during the last few weeks. These "red tides" occur in the lower ...

Recommended for you

US northeast braces for flooding after record snow

6 hours ago

Weather forecasters and emergency officials warned Sunday that melting snow would lead to heavy flooding in parts of the US northeast, with hundreds of thousands of people told to brace for fast-rising waters.

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Nov 21, 2014

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

Nov 21, 2014

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antigoracle
1 / 5 (1) Apr 22, 2013
Makes one wonder, what's the level of selenium in those scallops?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.