WHCOHH: Harmful Algal Bloom Dynamics and Epigenetic Mechanism of Toxin Action

The NIEHS/NSF Center for Oceans and Human Health in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is a multi-institutional Center with a mission to improve public health by enhancing the understanding of how oceanic and environmental processes affect the production, distribution, and persistence of toxin-producing organisms and the risks from exposure to their potent neurotoxins.

Researchers are using novel remote sampling technologies to achieve new insights into the population dynamics of known and emerging harmful algal bloom threats and to address critical mechanisms of toxin action. They use this information to link developmental exposures to adult consequences. The Center comprises three research projects that focus on harmful algal blooms and marine toxicants.

Biological and physical controls of Alexandrium bloom initiation and termination

Project leader: Donald M. Anderson, Ph.D.

This research is identifying and modeling the biological and physical mechanisms regulating bloom initiation and termination of Alexandrium dinoflagellates, which are responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Dynamics of harmful algal blooms: rapid response sampling of key processes

Project leader: Dennis J. McGillicuddy, Ph.D.

Moored technologies for detecting harmful algal bloom with real-time telemetry facilitate sampling of key bloom processes. Researchers are using data streams from Environmental Sample Processor moorings to mobilize rapid-response surveys during key phases of Alexandrium fundyense and Pseudo-nitzschia spp. harmful algal blooms.

Epigenetic mechanisms of toxicity after developmental exposure to marine toxins

Project leader: Mark E. Hahn, Ph.D.

Investigators are working to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which short-term, early-life exposure to harmful algal bloom toxins and marine toxicants can lead to later physiological and neurological abnormalities.