Protist Web Alert:
Some Marine Protists of Ill-Repute
This web alert will describe several sites dealing with marine
protists, including dinoflagellates, diatoms, algae, and their
biological and ecological effects. Two sites about cyanobacteria and one
about seaweeds are also included in this report in line with the
Donít forget to send me (email@example.com) your
favorite protist sites or any new sites you may have discovered.
Marine Biotoxins and Harmful Algal
It is a remarkable fact that phytoplankton, organisms responsible for
controlling atmospheric greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, and the basis of
the marine food web, can also be the cause of many serious ecological
and medical problems. Biotoxins produced by overgrowths of marine algae
can be a serious threat to many higher organisms including salmon in
aquaculture, humpback whales, dolphins, seabirds and also humans who
consume contaminated shellfish. I was surprised to learn that virtually
all coastal regions of the U.S. are now subject to a variety of harmful
algal bloom events, possibly suggesting yet another effect of human
overpopulation on natural ecosystems. This site from the Northwest
Fisheries Science Center has information about these various protists
and the problems they can cause. There are separate sites on marine
including such delights as paralytic and diarrheic shellfish poisons,
domoic acid poisons, brevetoxin (neurotoxic shellfish poison), and
harmful algal blooms (http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/hab/blooms.htm).
Very informative. I plan to ask my favorite seafood restaurant to
check this site routinely.
The Harmful Algae
Another informative site dealing with algal blooms. The links include
an introduction to algal blooms (http://www.redtide.whoi.edu/hab/whathabs/whathabs.html),
a photogallery of the protists involved and visible blooms (http://www.redtide.whoi.edu/hab/rtphotos/rtphotos.html),
scanning EM micrographs of several diatom and dinoflagellates
responsible for blooms (http://www.redtide.whoi.edu/hab/species/species.html),
and information on human diseases caused by these organisms (http://www.redtide.whoi.edu/hab/illness/illness.html).
A nice site for people outside this field to learn about the
Sites on Pfiesteria
Pfiesteria is a fascinating polymorphic dinoflagellate responsible
for fish disease in estuaries, coastal areas and aquacultures in the
United States from the mid-Atlantic to the Gulf Coast. The North
Carolina University Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology has an
informative site at http://www.pfiesteria.org/ which
describes the complex life cycle (http://www.pfiesteria.org/pfiesteria/lifecycle.html),
a photogallery of different stages of the organism (http://www.pfiesteria.org/archives/images.html),
the possible neurotoxic effects on humans exposed to this organism (http://www.pfiesteria.org/pfiesteria/himpact.html),
and on-going research.
An interesting site from the State where Pfiesteria was discovered
The university of Maryland has another informative site on Pfiesteria
in the Chesapeake Bay at http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/fish-health/pfiesteria/
. There is even a list of hotlines to call to report fish lesions or
request information before you go water-skiing (http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/fish-health/pfiesteria/intro7.html).
A site that provides valuable and reasoned information on a
possible public health problem, proving that knowledge rather than
hysteria is the best way to approach potential problems.
More Sites on Dinoflagellates
A site at the University of Calgary with a nice introduction to
including a "dinoflagellate menagerie" of fossil cysts (http://www.geo.ucalgary.ca/~macrae/palynology/dinoflagellates/menagerie.html),
and a potentially quite valuable attempt to provide a type image
repository of dinoflagellates (http://www.geo.ucalgary.ca/~macrae/palynology/types/types.html).
An interesting site with an emphasis on dinoflagellates in the
A more general site from UC Berkeley at http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/protista/dinoflagellata.html
describing the fossil record the life history and ecology, and the
A good site to begin your quest to learn something about
The Seaweed Site
An interesting site that deals with all aspects of seaweeds and
marine algal biology. There are links to threaded discussions on algae,
a useful listing of available culture materials, images of a variety of
marine algae, and even a link to the International Seaweed Association.
Also for those interested in growing your own Nori, there is a valuable
site at http://www.seaweed.ie/cultivation/NoriCultivation.html
(soy sauce must be provided however!).
Not exactly about protists, but nevertheless of some interest.
Cyanosite: a Webserver for Cyanobacterial
As stated in the text, this is the "premier web site for
cyanobacteria research", and has been online since 1995 (a history of
the site is actually provided together with the "vintage website" as
well as some spooky webcounter data at http://www-cyanosite.bio.purdue.edu/ocyanosite/hits/hits.html
!). The site has links to an Image Gallery with over 200 micrographs, to
experimental protocols, culture media recipes, and a directory of
cyanobiologists with hyperlinked email address.
A good site both for outsiders and true cyanobiologists.
CyanoBase: The Genome Database for
User-friendly java-based or gif image-based clickable images of the
genome are provided. Also a Blast server to search this genome for
sequences. A novel Proteomic link is provided (http://www.kazusa.or.jp/cyano/cyano2D/index.html)
that provides annotated images of 2D gels in addition to other
A valuable site for the molecular cyanobiologist.
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