Science

Genes To Be Used As Early Warning System For Possible Harmful Algae Growth

By Rodney Rafols , Dec 03, 2016 01:20 AM EST
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Algae has been known to be either beneficial or harmful. Too much algae in freshwater and on the sea can have detrimental effects on its environment. A new way might be coming that can check on algae growth. Genes are to be used as an early warning system for possible harmful algae growth.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have sequenced the genes of a harmful algae. By sequencing its genes, the researchers have found out that algae growth could be anticipated using the genes as a marker. Adrian Marchetti, lead researcher from the University of North Carolina's Department of Marine Sciences said that the study has given new insight on how algae grows so fast.

Too much algae has harmful effects. It has a toxic effect on its environment and can affect marine life near it, according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill News. When it has too many nutrients for it to grow, algae can have an unchecked growth. Algae growth has been rapid in many US coastal states.

Algae's effect on communities can also be great. Water that has been contaminated by algae can be undrinkable. Fish kill has also been attributed to algae growth, which affects communities that depend on fishing. Climate change is seen to make algae bloom faster, since algae thrive in warm conditions, as Phys Org reports.

Marchetti, together with graduate student Weida Gong and Hans Paerl, one of the leading experts in algae blooms, has sequenced harmful algae in the Neuse River estuary. The genes taken from that algae have been compared with those that were taken from algae from another area. The research has found that the algae genes that help it to get nutrients and vitamins go together with bacteria.

The study shows that the algae and bacteria form a mutual relationship. While there isn't a way to effectively prevent them from increasing rapidly, there is now a way to at least predict when this increase might happen. Its genes could be used to show how it is responding to its environment. The genes are to be used as an early warning system for possible harmful algae growth. Algae can also live under ice, as a study shows that lakes are still alive even when under ice.

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