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Heterosigma akashiwo

Heterosigma akashiwo

We'll conclude the UBC Celebrate Research Week series a bit belatedly -- I was hoping to receive higher resolution images, but people get busy, so we'll make do. Katherine introduces today's researcher:

Richard White is a PhD student of Dr. Curtis Suttle, Professor and Associate Dean, Research (Faculty of Science) (Suttle lab). Today's entry is about an algae-infecting virus. The left image is of the HaNIV virus (from Lawrence, J et al. 2001. A novel virus (HaNIV) causes lysis of the toxic bloom-forming alga Heterosigma akashiwo (Raphidophyceae). J. Phycol. 37:216-222), and the second two images are of the alga Heterosigma akashiwo.

Richard writes about "Unraveling the viral diversity amongst marine phytoplankton":

Heterosigma akashiwo (pictured centre and right) is responsible for toxic blooms that cause mass economic impacts to marine fish population's worldwide. The name akashiwo itself comes from Japanese meaning "red tide", which is a phenomenon that this organism causes in marine ecosystems. The toxicity of blooms caused by Heterosigma akashiwo can affect all trophic levels of the marine environment from copepods, fish, echinoderms and mollusks, but the toxin is unknown.

Heterosigma akashiwo has a true adversary that regulates its population and helps safeguard Earth's ocean from its devastating bloom effects. A wide range of viruses infect Heterosigma akashiwo (pictured above left is an ssDNA virus - HaNIV), and these can be involved in the termination of blooms. Understanding these viruses provides insight into the natural control mechanisms that regulate red tides in nature.

Katherine adds: For those who are interested, you can see more about harmful algal blooms. A British Columbian resource also outlines their effect on people (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning), as well as local beach closures.

8 Comments

what does the regular pattern in the left image represent? the honeycomb-like pattern? just what are we looking at? thank you

Interesting subject. Does it seem that these blooms are on the rise from global warming?

I am always amazed at the wealth of interesting knowledge shared and gained from these articles and photographs!

quin: viruses can be crystallized, and I think that the regular pattern is a microscopic image of such a crystal.

Thanks Megan -

Appreciate your time and the knowledge - what a world!

i live not far from sarasota and anna maria the red tide can be
a misery when it comes in heavy- we who are allergic to red tide
have to stay inland -mote marine in sarasota works on red tide

the links are helpful as i can be really ill from shell fish etc
this explains a lot and i am most grateful for all the information

..so if which.."Heterosigma akashiwo has a true adversary that regulates its population"..didn't exist..it would run rampant in a form of suicide..?

The honeycomb is the HaNIV virus in assembly that is close to lysing the cell thus releasing the viral particles.

Viruses lyse 20% of biomass of the ocean without this lysis nutrients would not be available.

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