Friday, May 16, 2014

Didymo, aka 'Rock snot,' spreading fast as climate warms

BY Yereth Rosen, Anchorage Daily News

Rock snot, a slimy-looking algae that vexes salmon and salmon fishermen, is not an alien invader but a homegrown threat gaining strength in changing water conditions, according to a new study by scientists from Dartmouth and Environment Canada.

Officially known as Didymosphenia geminata, which scientists shorten to didymo, it has existed in portions of Alaska for some eight centuries, said the study published online last week in the journal BioScience.

Only recently, though, has the nuisance algae been noticed, even in sites considered pristine, thanks to aggressive growth that spreads rock snot stalks in lakes, rivers and streams.

"It's in Patagonia. It's in Tierra del Fuego. It's in Alaska," said study co-author Brad Taylor of Dartmouth College. It is also in British Columbia, New York and various northeastern U.S. states. Sweden, Poland and Colorado see it, too.

Alaska officials have waged a crusade against rock snot. Alaska is among several states that ban felt soles in fishermen's waders; the state Department of Fish and Game cites felt's ability to absorb and transport a plethora of unwanted organisms to new places. The Alaska House this year passed a bill that allows state officials to mount a rapid response to eradicate invasive aquatic species and establishes a fund to pay for it; the bill died, however, without Senate action.

Explosion linked to phosphorus

But when it comes to combating rock snot in Alaska, anti-invader strategies may do little, according to Taylor's study. Core samples at Naknek Lake show that rock snot has been there since the year 1200, the study notes. As long as the didymo did not bloom, Taylor said, it went mostly unnoticed.

"Unless you scrubbed a rock and looked in a microscope, you would never know it's there," he said. "Absence of evidence was used as evidence of absence."

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Spotted salamander is solar-powered - vertebrate/algae symbiote

Spotted salamander is solar-powered - vertebrate/algae symbiote

The spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is found throughout the eastern USA and parts of southern Canada. While a number of animals, including corals, sponges, sea slugs and one species of hornet have algae living in them that use sunlight to make sugar, no backboned animal has been found that can harness the sun – until now. It has long been suspected, and now there is hard evidence: the spotted salamander is solar-powered.

Plants make food using photosynthesis, absorbing light to power a chemical reaction that converts carbon dioxide and water into glucose and releases oxygen. Corals profit from this reaction by housing photosynthetic algae inside their shells.
Spotted salamanders, too, are in a long-term relationship with photosynthetic algae. In 1888, biologist Henry Orr reported that their eggs often contain single-celled green algae called Oophila amblystomatis. The salamanders lay the eggs in pools of water, and the algae colonise them within hours.

By the 1940s, biologists strongly suspected it was a symbiotic relationship, beneficial to both the salamander embryos and the algae. The embryos release waste material, which the algae feed on. In turn the algae photosynthesise and release oxygen, which the embryos take in. Embryos that have more algae are more likely to survive and develop faster than embryos with few or none.
Then in 2011 the story gained an additional twist. A close examination of the eggs revealed that some of the algae were living within the embryos themselves, and in some cases were actually inside embryonic cells. That suggested the embryos weren't just taking oxygen from the algae: they might be taking glucose too. In other words, the algae were acting as internal power stations, generating fuel for the salamanders.

To find out if that was happening, Erin Graham of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and colleagues incubated salamander eggs in water containing radioactive carbon-14. Algae take up the isotope in the form of carbon dioxide, producing radioactive glucose. Graham found that the embryos became mildly radioactive – unless kept in the dark. That showed that the embryos could only take in the carbon-14 via photosynthesis in the algae.
The algae do not seem to be essential to the embryos, but they are very helpful: embryos deprived of algae struggle.

"Their survival rate is much lower and their growth is slowed," says Graham.
Source: NewScientist
LakeStewardship Blog

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

EPA Sponsoring Webcast Series to Raise Awareness about Harmful Algal Blooms and Nutrient Pollution

On June 25, 2013, EPA's Watershed Academy will sponsor a free webcast on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their Impacts in freshwater and marine ecosystems,the first in a series of webinars about this worsening environmental problem and public health threat. Jennifer Graham with the United States Geological Survey and Quay Dortch with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will start the series with an introduction to HABs, their causes, and their impacts, and EPA HAB expert Mario Sengco will moderate. This webcast series is a part of a broader outreach effort this summer that will aim to focus public attention on HABs, which can sicken people and pets, devastate aquatic ecosystems, and harm the economy. To register, visit
Source: Water Headlines

Sunday, March 10, 2013

World's First Algae-Powered Building Opens This Month in Germany

Splitterwerk Architects have designed an algae powered building, dubbed BIQ, which will be the very first of its kind. Covered with a bio-adaptive façade of microalgae, the distinctive building has been designed for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg and is slated to open this month.

To create the algae façade, the building is covered in bio-reactive louvers that enclose the algae. These louvers allow the algae to survive and grow faster than they would otherwise while also providing shade for the interior of the building. Additionally, the bio-reactors trap the heat energy created by the algae, which can then be harvested and used to power the building. Once the building is completed, it will be evaluated by scientists and engineers to allow for future research and adaptation for future building projects.

Read more: World's First Algae-Powered Building by Splitterwerk Architects Opens This Month in Germany | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Source: Kristine Lofgren, Inhabitat

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

European Algae Biomass 2013

Accelerating the Commercialization of Algal Biomass Through Applied R&D and Business Strategy

European Algae Biomass conference to be held April 24-25 in Vienna, Austria

During the afternoon of Tuesday 23rd April 2013 up to 30 conference attendees will receive a unique opportunity to visit Ecoduna's hanging gardens photobioreactor facility in Bruck an der Leitha, just a short drive from Vienna. There is no extra charge to attend the site visit, but spaces are limited and allocated on a first come first served basis. Please register your attendance for the site visit when booking for the conference.

Key Topics Include:
  • Commercial market analysis & forecast
  •  Strain selection & genetic engineering
  •  The future for European algae biomass: view from the bioplastic, pharmaceuticals and human nutrition markets
  • Algal culture systems: latest developments from laboratory & field
  •  Harvesting, dewatering, drying & oil extraction: maximizing efficiency & reducing cost
  • Commercial algae production: case study examples
  •  Biofuel production & biorefining
  • Algae-based CO2 capture
  •  Algae as an investment opportunity: An investor’s viewpoint • The path from lab to commercialization 
Download Full Agenda
Conference Web Page

For more information, contact Dimitri Pavlyk
+44 (0) 207 981 2503