Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Vitamins Identified as Key Nutrient Which May Promote Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Waters

Unlike other algae, nearly all harmful algal bloom species require vitamin B-12

Harmful algal blooms, which negatively affect coastal ecosystems, public health, economies and fisheries around the world, may be promoted by vitamins B-1 and B-12 according to Stony Brook University scientists, whose findings were published in an early online edition (Nov. 10) and in the current issue (Nov. 30) of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS ) in an article entitled "Most harmful algal bloom species are vitamin B1 and B12 auxotrophs" (link to article:

Professor Christopher J. Gobler, Ph.D., research scientist Ying Zhong Tang, and Ph.D. candidate Florian Koch of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook conducted experiments to evaluate whether the species of phytoplankton which form harmful algal blooms (HAB’s) require B-vitamins to grow. Harmful algal blooms are caused by phytoplankton and have a negative impact on coastal ecosystems and fisheries world-wide and cost the U.S. economy alone hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The impacts of harmful algal blooms have intensified in recent decades and most research has focused on chemical nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus as causative agents of these blooms. Vitamins have not been considered as prime suspects since prior investigations suggested that only small portion of phytoplankton species require B-vitamins for growth.

“Harmful algal blooms are not a new phenomenon, although many people may know them by other names such as red tides or brown tides,” Dr. Gobler said. “These events can harm humans by causing poisoning from shellfish contaminated with algal toxins and can damage marine ecosystems by killing fish and other marine life. The distribution, frequency and intensity of these events have increased across the globe and scientists have been struggling to determine why this is happening.”

Every coastal state in the United States experiences harmful algal blooms, according to Dr. Gobler.

While previous studies have examined the role of nutrients in harmful algal blooms, “the importance of coenzymes and particularly vitamins (vitamins B-1, B-7 and B-12 ) in regulating and stimulating harmful algal blooms has rarely been considered,” the researchers wrote.

“New methods have recently been developed to measure concentrations of vitamins B-1 and B-12 in the ocean and we discovered that vitamin levels were co-varying with the occurrence of HABs,” Dr. Gobler said.

The researchers examined more than 40 harmful algal bloom species in the laboratory and reported that all but one of the species tested (96%) required vitamin B-12 and that 20 of 27 species (74%) required vitamin B-1. In addition, the concentrations of vitamins B-1 and B-12 needed by the toxic algae were higher than those previously reported for other phytoplankton. The concentrations measured as needed for growth in the lab correspond closely to vitamin concentrations reported in coastal waters, suggesting that HAB demands for vitamins may exhaust the available supply of vitamins in hours to days. These findings demonstrate the potentially significant ecological role of B-vitamins in regulating the dynamics of HAB’s, the authors wrote.

The larger than expected vitamin requirements of harmful algal blooms partly stems from the fact that most of these events are caused by a class of algae called dinoflagellates. Dinoflagellates often consume large organic molecules such as amino acids and proteins that are similar to vitamins. The authors wrote “vitamins are among a suite of organic compounds dinoflagellates exploit for growth. Since dinoflagellates are notorious for the ability to form HAB’s, this study suggests vitamins are key organic compounds that may influence the occurrence of HAB’s of dinoflagellates.”

Harmful algal blooms have had a devastating impact many fisheries and ecosystems and there is great interest in curtailing these events. However, discovering the most important source of vitamins to HAB’s may prove challenging. Dr. Gobler said. “There are a lot of efforts right now to protect coastal ecosystems against HAB’s. Many efforts have been made to curb nitrogen loads since this nutrient has been considered the primary chemical promoting these events. This study demonstrates that vitamins must also be considered in order to understand the dynamics of HAB’s.” While the sources of nitrogen to coastal waters are well known, Dr. Gobler notes that, “we now need to identify the major sources vitamins promoting harmful algal blooms.”

About the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is the State University of New York's center for marine and atmospheric research, education, and public service. With more than 85 faculty and staff and more than 500 students engaged in interdisciplinary research and education, SoMAS is at the forefront of advancing knowledge and discovering and resolving environmental challenges affecting the oceans and atmosphere on both regional and global scales.

Office of Media Relations | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Make way for the mini flying machines
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

21.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>