Surge in Nitrogen Has Turned Sargassum into the World’s Largest Harmful Algal Bloom

Scientists have discovered dramatic changes in the chemistry and composition of Sargassum, floating brown seaweed, transforming this vibrant living organism into a toxic “dead zone.” Results suggest that increased nitrogen availability from natural and anthropogenic sources, including sewage, is supporting blooms of Sargassum and turning a critical nursery habitat into harmful algal blooms with catastrophic impacts on coastal ecosystems, economies, and human health. Globally, harmful algal blooms are related to increased nutrient pollution.

The 20 best places to tackle U.S. farm nitrogen pollution

A pioneering study of U.S nitrogen use in agriculture has identified 20 places across the country where farmers, government, and citizens should target nitrogen reduction efforts.

The 20 nitrogen “hotspots of opportunity”–which appear on a striking map–represent a whopping 63% of the total surplus nitrogen balance in U.S. croplands, but only 24% of U.S. cropland area.

Nitrogen inputs are so high in these areas that farmers can most likely reduce nitrogen use without hurting crop yields.

Heavy rainfall drives a third of nitrogen runoff, according to new study

Extreme rain events that occur on nine days a year drive around a third of all nitrogen yields on farmland in the Mississippi River basin, according to a new study. The research could inform how and when farmers apply nitrogen fertilizer to their fields and has environmental implications for the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

UNH Researchers Find Wildfires Can Alter Arctic Watersheds for 50 Years

Climate change has contributed to the increase in the number of wildfires in the Arctic where it can dramatically shift stream chemistry and potentially harm both ecosystems and humans. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found that some aftereffects, like decreased carbon and increased nitrogen, can last up to five decades and could have major implications on vital waterways.

How to Boost Plant Biomass: NYU Biologists Uncover Molecular Link Between Nutrient Availability and Plant Growth Rates

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), plant genomic scientists at New York University’s Center for Genomics & Systems Biology discovered the missing piece in the molecular link between a plant’s perception of the nitrogen dose in its environment and the dose-responsive changes in its biomass.

New geochemical tool reveals origin of Earth’s nitrogen

Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and their colleagues used a new geochemical tool to shed light on the origin of nitrogen and other volatile elements on Earth, which may also prove useful as a way to monitor the activity of volcanoes. Their findings were published April 16, 2020, in the journal Nature.

Biologists Capture Fleeting Interactions Between Regulatory Proteins and Their Genome-wide Targets

New York University biologists captured highly transient interactions between transcription factors—proteins that control gene expression—and target genes in the genome and showed that these typically missed interactions have important practical implications. In a new study published in Nature Communications, the researchers developed a method to capture transient interactions of NLP7, a master transcription factor involved in nitrogen use in plants, revealing that the majority of a plant’s response to nitrogen is controlled by these short-lived regulatory interactions.