Scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have successfully conducted the first remote detection of a harmful algal species and its toxin below the ocean's surface. The achievement was recently reported in the June issue of Oceanography.
This achievement represents a significant milestone in NOAA's effort to monitor the type and toxicity of harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs are considered to be increasing not only in their global distribution, but also in the frequency, duration, and severity of their effects. HABs damage coastal ecosystem health and pose threats to humans as well as marine life. Climate change is expected to exacerbate this trend, since many critical processes that govern HABs dynamics, such as water temperature and ocean circulation, are influenced by climate.
A MBARI-designed robotic instrument called the Environmental Sample Processor, or 'ESP,' designed as a fully-functional analytical laboratory in the sea, lets researchers collect the algal cells and extract the genetic information required for organism identification as well as the toxin needed to assess the risk to humans and wildlife. The ESP then conducts specialized, molecular-based measurements of species and toxin abundance, and transmits results to the laboratory via radio signals.
"This represents the first autonomous detection of both a HAB species and its toxin by an underwater sensor," notes Greg Doucette, Ph.D., a research oceanographer at NOAA's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research laboratory in Charleston, S.C. "It allows us to determine not only the organism causing a bloom, but also the toxicity of the event, which ultimately dictates whether it is a threat to the public and the ecosystem."
For the first demonstration of the ESP's ability to detect HABs and their toxins, Doucette and his MBARI colleague, Chris Scholin, Ph.D., targeted certain members of the algal genus Pseudo-nitzschia and their neurotoxin, domoic acid in Monterey Bay, Calif.
Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid have been a concern in the Monterey Bay area for well over a decade. In 1991, the first U.S. outbreak of domoic acid poisoning was documented in Monterey Bay. This outbreak resulted in the unusual deaths of numerous pelicans and cormorants that ingested sardines and anchovies, which had accumulated the domoic acid by feeding on a bloom of the toxic algae.
In the spring of 1998, a mass mortality of sea lions in and around the Monterey Bay area was attributed to the sea lions' feeding on domoic acid contaminated anchovies. Since that time, Pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid have appeared on virtually an annual basis in California coastal waters and are the objects of an intensive statewide monitoring program run by the California Dept. of Public Health. Humans also can be affected by the toxin through consumption of contaminated seafood such as shellfish.
"Our public health monitoring program is one of the many groups that can benefit directly from the ESP technology and ability to provide an early warning of impending bloom activity and toxicity," said Gregg Langlois, director of the state of California's Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Program. "This is critical information for coastal managers and public health officials in mitigating impacts on the coastal ecosystem, since the toxicity of these algae can vary widely from little or no toxicity to highly toxic."
Beyond improving forecasting of HABs, this research will contribute to the rapidly emerging U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) by adding a new way to make coastal ocean observations. IOOS is a network of people and technology coordinated by NOAA that work together to generate and disseminate continuous data on our coastal waters, Great Lakes, and oceans.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit: http://www.noaa.gov.
On the Web:
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/
Integrated Ocean Observing System: http://www.ioos.gov/
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute: http://www.mbari.org/
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
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...
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...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
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...
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...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy