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Taking Apart Brown Tide Algae

Taking Apart Brown Tide Algae

July 8, 2012

In the summer, a single-celled marine algae species often causes “brown tides” in estuaries along the U.S. East Coast, killing seagrass, decimating shellfish, and costing local economies millions of dollars. A research group including WHOI biologist Sonya Dyhrman and MIT/WHOI Joint Program student and postdoc Louie Wurch recently showed how this algae out-competes other species and thrives in the estuaries. Using molecular techniques to investigate the species’ DNA, RNA, and proteins, they found it contains genes and metabolic pathways other algae don’t have that allow them to obtain nutrients from the organic compounds found in human-impacted waters. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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