delware environmental institute

News Journal: University of Delaware tests toxic algae slayer

A common bacteria in coastal waters, including Delaware's inland bays, may be an important tool to control harmful algae blooms that cause life-threatening illnesses like shellfish poisoning and trigger massive fish kills. The bacteria, called Shewanella, destroys the algae from the inside out, said Kathryn Coyne, a researcher on a project to learn more about the bacteria, the toxins it produces and the role it plays in the aquatic ecosystem.

"It's like chemical warfare," said Coyne, an associate professor at the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment. “If we can demonstrate that the algicide produced by the bacteria doesn’t negatively impact other important species in the food chain, we may be able to use it to mitigate a harmful dinoflagellate bloom or avoid them altogether by applying the algicide as a preventative measure.”