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Algae’s hunger ramps up red tide toxins |

The mysterious red tide toxin that has killed a record number of manatees and brought countless dead fish to Southwest Florida beaches over the past few months could finally have an explanation: The algae that produce the toxin are hungry.

A significant new study of the algae, Karenia Brevis (sic), suggests that the organisms release more toxin when they do not have enough nutrients to keep growing.

The toxin is a defense mechanism against zooplankton. Opportunistic plankton feed when the plant is not getting enough nitrogen and phosphorous — the same ingredients in many fertilizers — say researchers with North Carolina State University and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

via Algae’s hunger ramps up red tide toxins |

Note: This article is about our research paper on algal bloom toxin defenses published in PLOS ONE last week.

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