Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Texas Researchers Casting for Answers to Stop Alga Problem in Texas Lakes

10.10.2006
Texas researchers are hoping for a golden opportunity to reel in a solution to stop a toxic algae that has killed millions of fish in the state's lakes.

A team of Texas Agricultural Experiment Station fishery scientists this week took water samples from Lake Whitney for a new round of experiments. They are hoping for a breakthrough before winter when the golden algae typically blooms and kills perhaps hundreds of thousands of fish in one occurrence.

"If you have repeated blooms in the lakes, of this magnitude, eventually you'll destroy those recreational fisheries, for sure," said Dr. Daniel Roelke, Experiment Station aquatic ecology scientist, who spearheaded his team's sampling. "And not only that, (if) these blooms get into the state hatcheries, anything that is currently being raised at that hatchery, dies. This is a big problem and greater attention needs to be focused on this problem."

Roelke is collaborating with Dr. James Grover from the University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Brian Brooks from Baylor University and Dr. Richard Kiesling from the U.S. Geological Survey as a multi-agency team seeking answers for the problem.

Golden alga, Prymnesium parvum, was first reported in inland Texas waters along the Pecos River in 1985. After the initial find, no occurrence was documented until 2001, Roelke said.

That year, algae blooms caused massive fish deaths in the Dundee State Fish Hatchery, about 20 miles west of Wichita Falls, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists. "Bloom" is the term biologists use to describe a huge increase in the number of these one-celled plants in a given area.

Each year since 2001, the golden hues in water and the telltale dead fish in numerous Texas lakes have puzzled water and fish experts, Roelke said. So far more than 25 lakes and rivers in five of the state's major river basins have been identified as having golden alga populations, according to the parks and wildlife department.

"Typically, in our Texas systems these blooms are wintertime phenomena. They last through the winter months and into the spring," Roelke said. "But the organism can be found in the water at all times of the year, and the lab work we've done shows that the conditions are optimal for growth in the summer time not winter when the blooms occur.

"This indicates that something other than the physical and chemical environment influences the timing of the blooms," Roelke added.

Already this season, several fish kills – including a late August kill of perhaps "hundreds of thousands" of fish in the Brazos River near Possum Kingdom Reservoir – are pointing to golden alga found in water samples, according to parks and wildlife agency logs.

A large kill of fish this early in the season is unusual but points to the difficulty of finding solutions to prevent the microscopic plant from blooming, Roelke said.

One thing seems certain: Golden alga can't take a lot of salt in the water, he said. Also, the organism grows poorly in completely freshwater systems, such as lakes in East Texas where annual rainfall rates are high.

"Our lakes located in Central and West Texas, however, tend to be salty because they receive little inflow due to rainfall," Roelke said. "The lack of rainfall is what causes these systems to become a little salty (brackish), which is optimal for growth of golden algae."

But scientists also want to examine other factors that may influence lake life in various seasons, Roelke said.

"Something must happen in the spring and in the summer that prevents it from growing," he said. "Are there some kind of grazers (micro-crustaceans) out there that are present in the spring and are able to tolerate the toxins that this golden alga produces then can consume it? Or is there perhaps some kind of a virus in the water that attacks the golden alga organism?"

The team already discovered that toxicity can be removed by adding nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, vitamins and trace metals. Roelke said more study is needed about golden alga life cycles because applying a treatment to massive bodies of water is not possible.

"But perhaps some form of fertilization could be developed and applied only in coves of lakes where the alga has been concentrated prior to blooming," Roelke said. "To prevent it there, might also stop its spread throughout the water system."

His lab will examine water collected in Lake Whitney through early November, then return to the same lake in February for another five-week collection period.

"The experiments under way right now focus on factors that influence bloom formation," he said, noting that once researchers understand that, "Management strategies can be formulated to prevent these factors from coming into play."

The experiments in the spring will focus on bloom termination.

Other researchers are examining environmental factors such as the role storm level wind may play in "mixing" the water and encouraging a growth spurt from the alga which otherwise had settled for a "resting period" in the depths for the season.

To see more about the statewide collaborative effort and learn how to report fish kills, see http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/water/environconcerns/hab/ga/ .

To learn more about Roekle's research, go to http://wfsc.tamu.edu/roelkelab/

Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://wfsc.tamu.edu/roelkelab/
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/water/environconcerns/hab/ga/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State

nachricht How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Weather extremes: Humans likely influence giant airstreams

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>