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Combating Rare Maritime Killer

17 April 2012

NEW ZEALAND - Dr Tim Harwood has successfully secured funding to continue research into the unique and highly toxic invader Karenia brevisulcata — a rare microalgal species that could threaten New Zealand’s high value aquaculture and fisheries species.

The two year grant from the International Science Relationship Fund will allow Dr Harwood to work with Professor Masayuki Satake, a leading marine toxin chemist at the University of Tokyo, to identify and characterise the marine toxins produced by the microalgae, and to develop an analytical tool for the aquaculture industry “that will tell us whether toxins are present or not” — providing an early warning system for any possible emerging event. This project will build on the excellent research initiated by recently retired Cawthron scientist, Dr Pat Holland.

Karenia brevisulcata has only ever bloomed once in the world, in Wellington Harbour in 1998. Dr Harwood says it is important we know more about it, as there is every possibility it could reappear and cause a significant problem for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry.

The project will further enhance research co-operation between Japan and New Zealand, strengthening strong personal and organisational connections and the capability to address threats to both New Zealand and Japanese marine environments.

The research project, funded jointly by the Ministry for Science and Innovation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, will involve Dr Harwood travelling to Japan to collaborate with Dr Satake, who will also spend time at the Institute in Nelson.

TheFishSite News Desk

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