Images: Brown Tides and Redfielders
(Christopher Gobler, Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences) The brown tides caused by the alga Aureococcus anophagefferens —like this one in Long Island, N.Y.—do not produce toxins that poison humans, but the long-lasting blooms damage sea grass beds and shellfisheries and lead to economic losses of millions of dollars annually.
Louie Wurch extracts RNA from Aureococcus anophagefferens in Sonya Dyhrman's Phytoplankton and Marine Biogeochemistry Laboratory at WHOI. A research team including Wurch found that the harmful algal bloom species has a unique gene complement that allows it to outcompete other marine phytoplankton and thrive in ecosystems that have been changed by human activities. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Aboard the research vessel
Oceanus in the Atlantic Ocean, graduate student Louie Wurch and his advisor, phytoplankton ecologist Sonya Dyhrman, hold samples of seawater containing single-celled algae. (Ben Van Mooy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The Redfielders, proud softball team of the WHOI Biology Department, came into being through the efforts of Louie Wurch (second row, second from left). With a motto of, "To us, you're plankton," the team was named for WHOI's Redfield building, which was itself named after a renowned biologist who discoveredthe Redfield ration: the near-universal 106:16:1 ratio of the elements carbon to nitrogen to phosphorous found in plankton. (Courtesy of The Redfielders)