Novel Genetic Tools to Assess Harmful Algal Blooms

Photo credit: NOAA/NWFSC

Blooms of toxin-producing organisms like dinoflagellates and cyanobacteria can have a tremendous impact on marine ecosystems, fisheries and human health. Harmful algal blooms are estimated to cost the U.S. economy $50 million per year due to closure of fisheries and beaches and treatment of human illness from exposure to toxins. Despite the economic and public health importance, some key aspects of the biology and ecology of toxin producing organisms are poorly understood.

At GMGI, we can use genomic information to provide an essential resource to better understand regulation of bloom formation and toxin production, which can translate into tools for improved prediction of outbreaks. Development of sensitive, cost-effective, genetic-based detection tools will enhance strategies to mitigate harmful effects, resulting in beneficial ecological and human health consequences.

Principal Investigators: Dr. Matt Harke and Dr. Shelly Wanamaker