Extensive changes in gene expression were revealed in an NCCOS study of aging in Florida red tides. These changes reflect alterations in metabolism that may provide the tools necessary for developing markers indicative of waning Florida red tide blooms. These results were found using a DNA microarray designed by the NCCOS HAB Genomics Project for the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. The microarray provides simultaneous measurement of the expression of thousands of genes.
Florida red tides are caused by dense concentrations of Karenia brevis. These blooms can persist in the Gulf of Mexico for many months, resulting in extensive human health impacts, marine animal mortalities, and economic losses. After weeks to months, these blooms often quickly disappear. The mechanisms that cause bloom termination are not understood.
Built on decades of research on red tides, NOAA has developed and implemented an operational red tide forecast system available to coastal managers and residents that uses satellite images of blooms to predict bloom impacts. The long-term objective of the current research is to understand how the biology of Karenia brevis interacts with the oceanographic forces that drive harmful algal blooms, and then by incorporating indicators of the physiological status of red tide blooms into monitoring practices, to develop the ability to predict the termination of blooms and their impacts.