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Uncover the secret of the toxicity of “zombie weeds”

Раскрыт секрет токсичности «зомби-водорослей»The task could not be solved in the past.

Molecular biologists have discovered genes and signal molecules, causing algae release toxic “acid zombie” during the flowering of water in the ocean. Their study will help to protect the marine animals and birds by the action of the venom, say scientists in an article published in the journal Science.

“The discovery of genes responsible for the production of Domovoi acid, will help us understand the circumstances under which the algae begin to produce a “weapon of mass destruction”. This will allow us to predict where and when they will receive the following spots of toxic algae,” said Patrick Brunson (Brunson Patrick) from the SCRIPPS institution of Oceanography in San Diego (USA).

Algal blooms cause brown or blue-green algae that live in freshwater lakes and reservoirs and sea water. With the explosive growth in the number of cyanobacteria and brown algae in the water occur extensive spots that may pose a threat to human health and animals because of the toxins that the algae produce water, clearing his “living space”.

Spring and winter 2015 and in subsequent years, on the West coast of the USA struck by a kind of “zombie epidemic” is an outbreak of growth of algae species Pseudo-nitzschia australis, whose cells during flowering produce large quantities of the neurotoxin DA, the so-called “acid zombie”. The molecules of this substance are easy to accumulate in body tissues of fish and shellfish, and eating mammals, birds or humans it causes hallucinations, cramps, and death.

Branson and his colleagues have taken the first step to combat such oceanic “zombie Apocalypse”, revealing genes associated with the production of this acid, and revealing some of the conditions under which they are enabled and disabled.

As scholars have noted, this problem could not be solved in the past due to the fact that the genome of the algae is very complex in structure, and early geneticists did not know any analogue Domovoi acid that would be produced by microbes or multicellular material.

The authors were able to solve the issue, drawing attention to the fact that the rate of production of “zombie acid” can vary greatly depending on how much carbon dioxide and phosphorus compounds contain water of the oceans.

This gave them the idea that genes associated with the production of DA-toxin, can be found by observing the changes in the activity of different DNA segments Pseudo-nitzschia australis at a shift in the concentrations of these two nutrients.

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