Toxic blue-green algae adapt to rising CO2

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Plazma Inferno!, Aug 10, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    A common type of blue-green algae is finding it easy to adapt to Earth's rising CO2 levels, meaning blue-green algae -- of which there are many toxin-producing varieties -- are even more adept at handling changing climatic conditions than scientists previously supposed. A team of microbiologists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) are reporting this finding and point here at implications for clean drinking water, swimming safety and freshwater ecosystems.
    The research team trained their microscopes on Microcystis, a type of blue-green algae that proliferate in lakes and reservoirs in summer. The team analysed the genetic composition of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae's scientific name), observing Microcystis in both the lab and the Kennemer lake, under CO2-rich and poor conditions. Before this, the adaptive potential of these harmful cyanobacteria in response to increasing CO2 concentrations had never been studied systematically, even though this can help us predict how algal blooms will develop in future.
    In both the lab and the lake, cyanobacteria's genetic makeup changed in response to increasing CO2 concentrations, showing a textbook example of natural selection.
    This cyanobacteria's adaptation to rising CO2 is cause for concern. That's because Microcystis can produce microcystin, a toxin that causes liver damage in birds and mammals. In high concentrations, cyanobacteria also disrupt freshwater ecosystems, killing fish and aquatic plants.

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