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
The hidden structure of the periodic system
17.06.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)
Tiny probe that senses deep in the lung set to shed light on disease
17.06.2019 | University of Edinburgh
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.
The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.
Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
17.06.2019 | Information Technology
17.06.2019 | Earth Sciences
17.06.2019 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation