Oyster bacteria to clean up coasts
Oyster microbiomes may play a role in reducing the levels of nitrogen in over-fertilised coastal waters, according to scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), USA. Excess nitrogen fuels algae blooms that lead to murky water and low oxygen levels, and this excess nitrogen can enter the sea from treatment plant and farm wastewater. In a new study, the team identified bacteria in oysters’ guts and shells that are able to remove nitrogen from water efficiently – much faster than previous studies suggested. This finding has important implications for efforts to introduce oysters with certain genes that do this as efficiently as possible into over-fertilised waters, although the researchers at VIMS say that more research is needed due to the complex processes and relationships within the microbial communities.