Discovery of method to combat toxic algal blooms and description of a new group of organisms

In the fall of 1997 a then unknown species of plankton, Parvilucifera infectans, was discovered in the Gullmar Fjord, on the west coast of Sweden. The organism is a parasite that infects and kills several species of toxic algae. Some of these toxic algae can generate extremely potent blooms at great cost to fisheries and the tourism industry around the world. Other species cause mussel toxins that cause major problems for mussel farmers in Sweden and elsewhere.

Fredrik Norén at Göteborg University in Sweden, has both described and studied the parasite in his doctoral dissertation.

This has led to the establishment of a new biotech company, Blue Water Systems, which will develop and produce the parasite as an ecological method of combatting toxic algal blooms.

Furthermore, Parvilucifera can be classified as belonging to a new group of organisms (phylum or division in scientific terminology) named Perkinsozoa. New groups of organisms have been described in Sweden only a few times since the days of Linnaeus. The discovery of this new group of organisms has also yielded more knowledge about the origin and development of the malaria parasite from marine parasites.

Fredrik Norén, Department of Marine Ecology, defended his doctoral thesis in marine botany at Göteborg University in March. The title is Factors regulating dinoflagellate populations, with special emphasis on the parasitic flagellate Parvilucifera infectans.

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