Some phytoplankton can produce toxins that are harmful to other marine organisms, including fish. Holly A. Bowers of the University of Kalmar in Sweden has studied the DNA of phytoplankton in order to identify and quantify different types of harmful phytoplankton species.
Her work is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding when and how harmful phytoplankton species, such as e.g. the "killer algae" become dominant and threaten to kill off fish.
Just like plants on land, phytoplankton is an important source of nutrition for other organisms and is responsible for the major part of the global primary production. Sometimes the phytoplankton toxins can be so potent that they can cause severe illness and even death in humans.
Authorities, administrators, and researchers are interested in methods that can rapidly locate harmful phytoplankton species. Since phytoplankton species are tiny, 1-100 thousandths of a mm, and several of them look similar, it is difficult to distinguish various species in a microscope. One way to get around this is to analyze their DNA.
"DNA is species-specific and is similar to a fingerprint, which makes it possible to distinguish between different species", says Holly A. Bowers.
One way to analyze DNA is through real-time PCR, where you dye the DNA of a single species with a fluorescent preparation. The light can then be measured, and more light means more cells of the species there are in the water sample.
Holly A. Bowers' doctoral thesis describes how real-time PCR has been adapted to quickly and reliably identify and estimate a number of harmful phytoplankton species quantities present in the water. The DNA tests that Holly A. Bowers developed for her thesis are now used in several places around the world, especially in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, U.S. The findings of the DNA tests have helped researchers, authorities, and administrators to understand the spread of harmful phytoplankton species. The part of the doctoral work carried out in the U.S. mainly focused on identifying harmful species as part of a state-sponsored monitoring program. In Kalmar, Sweden, the DNA tests were used to study the feeding behavior of a phytoplankton species responsible for fish kills in coastal waters around the world, including the Baltic outside Kalmar.
The external examiner was Professor Lisa Campbell, Texas A&M University, USA.For more information:
Karin Ekebjär | idw
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy