Seaweeds succumb to viruses too!

Posted on Aug 4, 2017

oar weed (Laminaria digitata)

Scientists from Plymouth are warning the UK kelp biofuel industry to beware of viruses. Whilst known to infect certain types of seaweed, a new study published in the ISME Journal is the first to describe viruses in kelps, which are important both ecologically and commercially.

Researchers from the Marine Biological Association (MBA) and University of Plymouth examined Laminaria and Saccharina kelps commonly occurring around the British Isles, and which include target species for the emerging kelp biofuel industry. They detected viruses by searching at the molecular level for their DNA 'fingerprint', and their presence was confirmed by observation of symptoms of infection using conventional and electron microscopy.

Kelps are the largest brown seaweeds, engineering temperate rocky coastlines into complex habitats comparable to terrestrial forests,...

MBA and partners make the headlines with MCCIP Report

Posted on Jul 31, 2017

The UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership’s report on 10 years of science to policy reporting on the impacts of climate change made media headlines nationally and internationally. The Marine Biological Association’s Dr Matt Frost did a number of interviews in response to interest in issues such as changes in UK fish and bird populations. The fact that the project has involved hundreds of scientists and been running for over 10 years adds a significant weight to the evidence being presented – perhaps the reason that the media has taken particular interest in this story.

ITV News -

Radio Cornwall - (From 33 mins 27s)

The Hindu -


July 2017 YMB Blog

Posted on Jul 27, 2017

Welcome to the July 2017 YMB Blog!

Hello YMB Members! I hope you will join me in celebrating the news I bring for you today - The YMB Summit 2017 tickets are now available for sale - continue reading for more information. Also this month, the Blog brings you a YMB Member Article by Jordan Havell with his latest discoveries. Last but not least, I remind you that nominations for the 2017 UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information are still open, and share with you an interesting video about the journey of water. I hope you will enjoy this month's reading.

And remember, we would love you to contribute to the content of this blog as much as possible. Please share your stories, reports, finds and photos with us. Sharing your photos, writing, art work comments or questions with us for use in future blog content and bulletins may earn you an...

What have marine microbes ever done for us?

Posted on Jul 26, 2017

Dr Michael Cunliffe, MBA Research Fellow

What have marine microbes ever done for us? MBA Resarch Fellow Dr Michael Cunliffe puts in a word for the small things in this fascinating interview .

Visit Dr Cunliffe's web pages .


A new review on the roles of vitamins in phytoplankton nutrition

Posted on Jul 21, 2017

MBA researcher Dr Katherine Helliwell has published a new review examining how and why many important species of marine phytoplankton need vitamins in order to survive. Vitamins often act as co-factors for essential metabolic pathways, although many algae are unable to synthesise their own vitamins and must obtain them from neighbouring organisms in their environment. Vitamin nutrition therefore appears to play an important role in marine ecosystems and underpins a complex network of interactions between phytoplankton and certain types of marine bacteria that we are only just beginning to understand. The full article can be accessed by following the link below.

The roles of B vitamins in phytoplankton nutrition: new perspectives and prospects

Katherine E. Helliwell

New Phytologist DOI: 10.1111/nph.14669

Inside the genome of the common red seaweed Porphyra

Posted on Jul 20, 2017

A red seaweed of the genus Porphyra

Porphyra is a common red seaweed found in the intertidal zone throughout the world. In addition to its important role in coastal ecosystems, Porphyra and the closely related genus Pyropia are important food crops in parts of the world (e.g. laver, nori). MBA researchers have been involved in analysing the genome sequence of Porphyra umbilicalis as part of an international consortium aiming to understand more about this seaweed and the evolution of the red algae. The research, led by Prof Susan Brawley (University of Maine), demonstrates that Porphyra contains many unique features that allow it to survive in the intertidal zone. In particular, the MBA team identified that the mechanisms used by Porphyra to sense its environment are unique to red algae and appear to differ considerably from those in the green algae. The results therefore not only tell us more about the ecology and...

Will a non-native macroalgae change our kelp forests?

Posted on Jul 19, 2017

Native kelps are important habitats for marine wildlife
Native kelps are important habitats for marine wildlife.

A new paper published by a group of researchers at the MBA considers the interactions between native macroalgal canopies and the non-native kelp Undaria pinnatifida (Wakame). A mixture of field surveys and manipulations on the rocky reefs of Plymouth Sound indicated that the spread of Undaria is inhibited by the presence of native competitors, particularly large perennial species ( Laminaria spp.). However, the non-native could still be found within dense native canopies, suggesting that disturbance to, or the absence of, canopies is not a prerequisite for Undaria colonisation. The authors conclude that Undaria is now a conspicuous and widespread component of the flora of Plymouth Sound. However, it is unlikely to cause major ecological changes as long as environmental conditions remain favourable for long-lived native species. See below for the full reference and a link to the...