Puget Sound eelgrass beds create a ‘halo’ with fewer harmful algae, new method shows

Genetic clues show that eelgrass growing underwater along Puget Sound shorelines is associated with fewer of the single-celled algae that produce harmful toxins in shellfish. The evidence shows this effect extends 45 feet beyond the edge of the eelgrass bed.

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Algae in the Oceans Often Steal Genes from Bacteria

Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria to gain beneficial attributes, such as the ability to tolerate stressful environments or break down carbohydrates for food, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.
The study of 23 species of brown and golden-brown algae, published in the journal Science Advances, shows for the first time that gene acquisition had a significant impact on the evolution of a massive and ancient group of algae and protists (mostly one-celled organisms including protozoa) that help form the base of oceanic food webs.

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Oysters and Clams Can be Farmed Together

Eastern oysters and three species of clams can be farmed together and flourish, potentially boosting profits of shellfish growers, according to a Rutgers University–New Brunswick study. Though diverse groups of species often outperform single-species groups, most bivalve farms in the United States and around the world grow their crops as monocultures, notes the study in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

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New Portable Tool Analyzes Microbes in the Environment

Imagine a device that could swiftly analyze microbes in oceans and other aquatic environments, revealing the health of these organisms – too tiny to be seen by the naked eye – and their response to threats to their ecosystems. Rutgers researchers have created just such a tool, a portable device that could be used to assess microbes, screen for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and analyze algae that live in coral reefs. Their work is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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New Method Detects Toxin Exposure from Harmful Algal Blooms in Human Urine

A newly developed method can detect even low-dose human exposure to microcystins and nodularin in human urine. During harmful algal blooms (HABs), species of cyanobacteria release toxic peptides, including microcystins and nodularin into waterways, impacting wildlife and humans living in these marine environments. These findings are the first to report microcystin concentrations directly from exposed residents impacted by cyanobacteria in Florida, and is a critical step in developing and interpreting clinical diagnostic tests for HABs exposure worldwide.

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UNH Sails into the Next Generation of Ocean Mapping With NOAA Grant

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have been awarded a three-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with Saildrone, Inc. of Alameda, CA, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) to develop data quality tools for a new unmanned wind-powered sailboat-like vehicle capable of long-duration missions to collect vital ocean mapping information.

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NUS engineers invent smartphone device that detects harmful algae in 15 minutes

A team of engineers from the National University of Singapore has developed a highly sensitive system that uses a smartphone to rapidly detect the presence of toxin-producing algae in water within 15 minutes. This technological breakthrough could play a big role in preventing the spread of harmful microorganisms in aquatic environments, which could threaten global public health and cause environmental problems.

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Red Algae Thrive Despite Ancestor’s Massive Loss of Genes

You’d think that losing 25 percent of your genes would be a big problem for survival. But not for red algae, including the seaweed used to wrap sushi. An ancestor of red algae lost about a quarter of its genes roughly one billion years ago, but the algae still became dominant in near-shore coastal areas around the world, according to Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Debashish Bhattacharya, who co-authored a study in the journal Nature Communications.

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