delware environmental institute

Scientists sequence genome of first harmful algal bloom species

Scientists sequence genome of first harmful algal bloom species

Even in the microscopic world of phytoplankton, Aureococcus anophagefferens is small. But this algal species is mighty. It causes brown tides, blooms of algae that have decimated fisheries and destroyed seagrass beds.

Scientists wanting to understand the proliferation of Aureococcus sequenced its genome -- the first ever sequencing of a harmful algal bloom (HAB) species -- and found that a specialized gene set allows it to dominate other marine phytoplankton and thrive in ecosystems affected by human activity. The finding could help explain global increases in HABs of this species over the past few decades.

The discovery was reported in the Feb. 21 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences led the project in collaboration with a team of scientists from 11 institutions that included the University of Delaware. (full article)