A research project of Damian Shea, University Director for the SE CSC, and Rance Hardison, a recent Ph.D. recipient from North Carolina State University (NCSU), was recently featured on the NCSU Newsroom website. The news article features a new publication that was co-authored by Drs. Shea and Hardison, "Increased toxicity of Karenia brevis during phosphate limited growth: ecological and evolutionary implications
The news feature begins:
"When Gulf of Mexico algae don’t get enough nutrients, they focus their remaining energy on becoming more and more poisonous to ensure their survival, according to a new study by scientists from North Carolina State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The study shows that harmful and ubiquitous Karenia brevis algae, which cause red tide blooms across the Gulf of Mexico, become two to seven times more toxic when levels of phosphorus, a major algal nutrient found in fertilizers and human waste, are low. Like wearing a suit of armor, producing highly toxic cells allows the algae to defend themselves against opportunistic waterborne grazers like zooplankton.
Red tide blooms in the Gulf are linked to fish kills and other ecological and economic damage in the region, and are also linked to respiratory ailments in humans. These blooms occur annually in the Gulf, but it’s hard to predict where or when they’ll occur or how long they’ll last.
Image credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute