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Brown tide study could aid baymen on LI

Chris Gobler, third from left, and his laboratory

Chris Gobler, third from left, and his laboratory staff. Credit: Stony Brook University

A research team led by a Stony Brook University scientist has published the first complete genome of a harmful algae bloom species, a development that could help researchers understand "brown tides" that have helped destroy Long Island’s shellfish industry.

The study is considered a step toward understanding the effects of human organic matter on the growth of algae tides.

These massive blooms of billions of tiny photoplankton have caused as much as $1 billion in economic damage to the shellfish industry, and they are on the increase — a phenomenon that is not yet understood, the study says.

The Aureococcus anophagefferens sequencing project was led by Christopher J. Gobler, an associate professor of Stony Brook's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

The study, titled "Niche of harmful alga Aureococcus anophagefferens revealed through ecogenomics," is to be published in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences.

Gobler said in a statement that harmful algal blooms have intensified in recent decades.

"These events can harm humans by causing poisoning of shellfish and can damage marine ecosystems by killing fish and other marine life," the scientist said.

"The distribution, frequency and intensity of these events have increased across the globe and scientists have been struggling to determine why this is happening."

In the photo above is Gobler, third from left, with his laboratory staff.

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