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Estrogen-packed Algae Transforming Lake Erie Fish
written by therockyriver.com staff
A full team of biologists has completed a four-year study on the increasing summer algae blooms in Lake Erie, and have discovered that the toxic algae is far more harmful than previously thought. (VIDEO)

After a nearly two-decade absence, Lake Erie has again been experiencing annual blue-green algae blooms so large that they can be seen from space. The summer of 2010 was regarded as the worst in the last 40 years, as outbreaks shut down beaches and killed dozens of family pets that played in or drank from the water.

The main goal of the study, which was penned by doctoral student Emily Rogers and overseen by professor Ted Henry, was to discover what has been causing the annual algae blooms in Lake Erie’s western basin. From there, the team had hoped to work on a preventative solution. Traditionally, biologists have blamed the algae blooms on large phosphorus run-offs from animal farms in western Ohio, in combination with higher-than-normal water temperatures in the shallow end of the lake.

But the team found that much more was going on within the algal toxin, and hypothesized that the blooms were actually igniting sex changes and reproductive trouble in fish. Although the compound has not yet been successfully isolated and identified, they discovered an estrogen-laden chemical within the algae that they think is the catalyst that is altering the gender and reproductive systems of fish. This discovery shakes up the science world because until now, biologists believed that transgendered and feminized fish were strictly the result of man-made pollutants.

Roger’s algal report focused on the genetic alterations in Zebra fish. The Zebra fish is not found in Lake Erie, but was used as the subject of testing because it is a species that has already had its complete genome sequenced, making it the easiest to measure how the chemical affected its entire genetic make-up.

The team is following up with an additional report that will focus on how the chemical is affecting native Channel Catfish in the western basin of Lake Erie. They fear the algae is affecting most, or all species of fish in the area, and may even be impacting the animals and humans drinking the lake water and living along the shores of Lake Erie.

Read more: http://www.ohiogamefishing.com/community/showthread.php?p=1271281&posted=1#post1271281#ixzz1V0zEqy6J
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