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NOAA funds UD research on harmful algae blooms

Lisa Tossey/University of Delaware

The University of Delaware has received $1.3 million grant from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to better understand algal blooms.

Those are overgrowths of algae, sometimes called “red tides” for the tint they add to the water. Because they block sunlight and cause oxygen levels to plummet, they can be a big problem for plant and animal life.

The NOAA grant will fund two separate UD projects for three years.


UD scientist Mark Warner will lead a project to learn more about how changes in climate, water temperature and other factors can affect the growth of toxic algae.

“What we’re going for with this project is to be able to identify how climate change is going to have an effect not only on the  [the algae] themselves but also with other organisms,” said Kathy Coyne, a researcher on Warner's team.



Coyne, will also use part of the grant to test an algicide to mitigate algal blooms.

“We identified a bacteria that was isolated from the Delaware’s Inland Bays, near the Indian River Inlet. It secretes a type of compound into the water that can kill one group of harmful algae,” said Coyne.

Coyne wants to know if they can use that compound without harming other organisms. Eventually, she hopes to use it in places like Delaware’s Inland Bays -- where algal blooms have been a major detriment to much of the local marine life.

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