Toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)

A long-standing research area primarily concerned with computer simulation of the growth and movement of problem cyanobacterial blooms and strategies for their management.

2012 Howard, A. Toxic Cyanobacteria in Bengstsson, L., Herschy, R. and Fairbridge, R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Lakes and Reservoirs. Springer. ISBN 9781402056161.

2011 Guven, B. and Howard, A. Sensitivity analysis of a cyanobacterial growth and movement model under two different flow regimes, Environmental Modeling and Assessment. 16:577-589.

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  • Researchers analyze biodiversity patterns in Antarctic Dry Valleys
    Antarctica is a nearly uninhabited, ice-covered continent ravaged by cold, windy, and dry conditions. Virginia Tech researcher Jeb Barrett was part of an international collaborative team that analyzed biodiversity patterns in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica.
  • Researchers discover new nitrogen source in Arctic
    Scientists have revealed that the partnership between an alga and bacteria is making the essential element nitrogen newly available in the Arctic Ocean. The microbial process of "nitrogen fixation" converts the element into a form that organisms can use, and was discovered recently in the frigid polar waters. This shift may be a result of climate change and could affect global chemical cycles, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Carbon-fixing enzyme 10 times more abundant than previously thought
    This is how Manajit Hayer-Hartl from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany, sums up her thoughts on a new analysis that the global abundance of plants' carbon dioxide converting enzyme is an order of magnitude higher than thought: "Since I work on rubisco I'm always giving talks saying that it is the most abundant protein on Earth. Sometimes my audience will ask 'Are you really sure?' I can now say 'Yes I am.'"
  • Biocolonizer species are putting the conservation of the granite at Machu Picchu at risk
    The UPV/EHU's IBeA research group has used a non-destructive methodology to determine the role of specific algae, lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria that may be causing exfoliation and delamination processes that are degrading the Sacred Rock of Machu Picchu, one of the most important symbols in the Peruvian archaeological city.
  • New molecular blueprint advances our understanding of photosynthesis
    Researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have used one of the most advanced microscopes in the world to reveal the structure of a large protein complex crucial to photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into cellular energy.
  • Discovery of the oldest evidence of motility on Earth
    An international multi-disciplinary team coordinated by Abderrazak El Albani at the Institut de chimie des milieux et matériaux de Poitiers (CNRS/Université de Poitiers) has uncovered the oldest fossilised traces of motility. Whereas previous remnants were dated to 570 million years ago, this new evidence is 2.1 billion years old. The fossils were discovered in a deposit in Gabon, where the oldest multicellular organisms were found. The results appear in the 11 February 2019 edition of PNAS.
  • Unusual sugar from cyanobacteria acts as natural herbicide
    Researchers at the University of Tübingen have discovered a natural substance that could compete with the controversial herbicide glyphosate: a newly discovered sugar molecule synthesized from cyanobacteria that inhibits the growth of various microorganisms and plants but is harmless to humans and animals. The joint study was led by Dr. Klaus Brilisauer, Professor Stephanie Grond (Institute of Organic Chemistry) and Professor Karl Forchhammer (Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection Medicine). It was published in the journal Nature Communications on Friday.
  • Neurotoxic cyanotoxins prevalent in eastern Australian freshwater systems, study shows
    Scientists have confirmed the presence of an amino acid, BMAA, thought to be associated with a higher incidence of neurodegenerative disease, in eastern Australian freshwater systems, and have identified some of the cyanobacterial species responsible for its production.
  • How bacteria build hyper-efficient photosynthesis machines
    Researchers facing a future with a larger population and more uncertain climate are looking for ways to improve crop yields, and they're looking to photosynthetic bacteria for engineering solutions.
  • The curious link between brain diseases and blue-green algae
    A scientific breakthrough intended to help boost the yields of food crops—such as wheat, cowpeas and cassava—might also improve understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's that could one day lead to a cure.
  • A boost for photosynthesis
    Photosynthesis is a fundamental biological process by which plants use light energy for growth. Most life forms on Earth are directly or indirectly dependent on photosynthesis. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany have collaborated with colleagues from the Australian National University to study the formation of carboxysomes, a structure that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis in aquatic bacteria. Their results, now published in Nature, could lead to the engineering of plants with more efficient photosynthesis and thus higher crop yields.
  • Seeding the Milky Way with life using 'Genesis missions'
    When exploring other planets and celestial bodies, NASA missions are required to abide by the practice known as "planetary protection." This practice states that measures must be taken during the designing of a mission to ensure that biological contamination of both the planet/body being explored and Earth (in the case of sample-return missions) are prevented.
  • Poisons or medicines? Cyanobacteria toxins protect tiny lake dwellers from parasites
    The cyanobacteria blooms that plague western Lake Erie each summer are both an unsightly nuisance and a potential public health hazard, producing liver toxins that can be harmful to humans and their pets.
  • What causes algal blooms, and how we can stop them?
    Outbreaks of algae have killed up to a million fish in the Murray Darling Basin over the last two weeks. The phenomena of "algae blooms", when the population of algae in a river rapidly grows and dies, can be devastating to local wildlife, ecosystems and people. But what are algae blooms? What causes them, and can we prevent them?
  • Ocean fertilization by unusual microbes extends to frigid waters of Arctic Ocean
    Microbes that provide natural fertilizer to the oceans by "fixing" nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form useable by other organisms were once thought to be limited to warm tropical and subtropical waters. Now, however, researchers have documented nitrogen fixation by an unusual type of cyanobacteria in the cold waters of the Bering and Chukchi Seas.
  • Proteins reveal intricate details about life under the microscope
    People have always been fascinated by life. We dream about revealing all its mysteries and are even searching other planets trying to find some forms of life there. Philosophies around the world have tried to define and understand life long before science even existed. But some of the answers may actually be found right under our noses – or rather, right under a microscope.
  • Oxygen could have been available to life as early as 3.5 billion years ago
    Microbes could have performed oxygen-producing photosynthesis at least one billion years earlier in the history of the Earth than previously thought.
  • New biocontainment strategy controls spread of escaped GMOs
    Hiroshima University (HU) researchers successfully developed a biocontainment strategy for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Their new method prevents genetically modified cyanobacteria from surviving outside of their test environment, enabling ways to more safely research the effects of GMOs. Their results were published in ACS Synthetic Biology.
  • Lake Erie algal blooms 'seeded' internally by overwintering cells in lake-bottom sediments
    Western Lake Erie's annual summer algal blooms are triggered, at least in part, by cyanobacteria cells that survive the winter in lake-bottom sediments, then emerge in the spring to "seed" the next year's bloom, according to a research team led by University of Michigan scientists.
  • Cells decide when to divide based on their internal clocks
    Cells replicate by dividing, but scientists still don't know exactly how they decide when to split. Deciding the right time and the right size to divide is critical for cells – if something goes wrong it can have a big impact, such as with cancer, which is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division.
  • 'Bionic mushrooms' fuse nanotech, bacteria and fungi
    In their latest feat of engineering, researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have taken an ordinary white button mushroom from a grocery store and made it bionic, supercharging it with 3-D-printed clusters of cyanobacteria that generate electricity and swirls of graphene nanoribbons that can collect the current.
  • Cyanobacteria found living 600 meters underground without sunlight
    A team of researchers from Spain, Germany and the U.S. has found a type of cyanobacteria that is capable of living more than 600 meters underground—in the absence of sunlight. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of the cyanobacteria and what they found.
  • Blue-green algae promises to boost food crop yields
    Scientists at ANU have engineered tiny carbon-capturing engines from blue-green algae into plants, in a breakthrough that promises to help boost the yields of important food crops such as wheat, cowpeas and cassava.
  • Red tide may be 'natural' but scientists believe coastal pollution is making it worse
    Vince Lovko, a phytoplantkon ecologist at Mote Marine Lab, crisscrossed the waters off Longboat Key in his lab's Yellowfin fishing boat with a crew of researchers, sampling sea water from a red tide that has slushed around Southwest Florida for nearly a year and littered beaches with dead manatees, sea turtles and rotting marine life.
  • Rainfall after drought caused explosion of cyanobacteria populations
    The first rains after a long period of drought this summer washed so much fertiliser into the surface water, including the swimming water, that cyanobacteria made the water unusable and dangerous. Researchers from Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) and Brazilian universities have shown in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology how a pulse of fertiliser causes an explosion of cyanobacteria populations.
  • Noise in the biorhythm: biological clocks respond differently to light fluctuations
    Anyone who has experienced jet lag knows the power of the biological clock. Almost all organisms, from humans to the smallest of bacteria, have a built-in system that tells them whether it is time to rest or to be active. Most biological clocks 'tick' autonomously, but some bacteria depend on light to synchronize their clock every day. Using mathematical calculations, researchers from AMOLF and the University of Michigan have now demonstrated that an autonomous clock suffers far less from noise, such as fluctuations in sunlight due to clouds. The research results were published online on August 14th, 2018, in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
  • What is causing Florida's algae crisis?
    Two large-scale algae outbreaks in Florida are killing fish and threatening public health. Along the southwest coast, one of the longest-lasting red tide outbreaks in the state's history is affecting more than 100 miles of beaches. Meanwhile, discharges of polluted fresh water from Lake Okeechobee and polluted local runoff water from the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee watersheds have caused blooms of blue-green algae in downstream estuaries on both coasts. Karl Havens, a professor at the University of Florida and director of the Florida Sea Grant Program, explains what's driving this two-pronged disaster.
  • Iron-silica particles in ancient seawater helped cyanobacteria oxygenate Earth's oceans billions of years ago
    The oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere was thanks, in part, to iron and silica particles in ancient seawater, according to a new study by geomicrobiologists at the University of Alberta. But these results solve only part of this ancient mystery.
  • Researchers engineer bacteria to create fertilizer out of thin air
    In the future, plants will be able to create their own fertilizer. Farmers will no longer need to buy and spread fertilizer for their crops, and increased food production will benefit billions of people around the world, who might otherwise go hungry.
  • New type of photosynthesis discovered
    The discovery changes our understanding of the basic mechanism of photosynthesis and should rewrite the textbooks.

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