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New Tool for Identifying Harmful Algae in Alaska

A quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay has been developed for the dominant HAB species that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning in Alaskan waters.

This assay provides positive identification of Alexandrium fundyense and quantifies the number of cells in field samples. The significance of this assay is that qPCRs can be incorporated into monitoring programs to detect toxic cells and provide warnings of when concentrations of toxic Alexandrium are reaching levels of concern.

qPCR assay technology and a better understanding of how to apply it to reduce the risks of PSP to human health and marine resources will be the goal of students gathered at NOAA Fisheries’ Auke Bay lab during the last week of February, 2012 from Fairbanks to Ketchikan for a hands on workshop. Participants are from a number of state, federal, NGO and academic institutions and include an educator who plans to introduce qPCR assays into high school science programs.

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