Professor Developing Methods to Understand, Stop Algal Bloom Damage

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UT professor, Steven Wilhelm, is working to develop methods that could help scientists understand and stop massive algal blooms that destroy marine habitat along the US Eastern Seaboard. He is one of more than 100 scientists across thirty-three institutions worldwide who are being supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Marine Microbiology Initiative—a two-year, $8 million investment aimed at accelerating the development of methods that will bring experimental model systems to the ocean and other areas of marine microbial ecology.

Wilhelm is leading a team that includes UT faculty (Tim Sparer, Erik Zinser, and Todd Reynolds), and the director of the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science in the UK (Willie Wilson). The team plans to develop a genetic system for Aureococcus anophagefferens—the alaga that causes brown tides and destroys marine habitat along the US eastern seaboard, causing losses of more than $50 million per year. They hope to modify the organism’s genes in order to gain understanding of the alga’s ecology and evolution in order to provide potential for biotechnical advances such as biofuels.  They will use their share of the grant (about $165,000) to support a postdoctoral student, a part-time graduate student, and a part-time technician for a year.

For the full story, check out the TN Today article.

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