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Blooming of potentially harmful microalgae on the coast of the State of São Paulo

Abstract

Microalgae are important constituents of the base of the food chain of aquatic environments. However, in specific situations as in the case of a harmful bloom (= red tide), the microalgae can have a deleterious effect which affects activities such as sailing, fishing, aquaculture, recreation, quality of waters and public health, as well as the aquatic biota itself. The increasing incidence and duration of harmful blooms, on a global scale, leads to the need for studies which will make it possible to understand its causes, predict its occurrences and mitigate its effects. The general objective of this research is to establish a nucleus of studies on the potentially harmful microalgae with easy access to the coasts of the State of São Paulo. This goal will be achieved by securing the following specific objectives (and respective products expected): 1) to create a microscopy laboratory with a library specialized in taxonomy of marine microalgae which will enable prompt responses to emergencies related to possible blooms; 2) to recruit and train personnel in identification of marine microalgae, since the training of human resources in this specialty is a lacuna to be filled by the State of São Paulo; 3) to undertake the survey of the occurrence of potentially harmful species (and associated flora) to draw up a catalogue of species (on CD-Rom) which will provide didactic support for the training of personnel and contribute to the knowledge of the biodiversity of marine microalgae on the coast of the State of São Paulo; 4) to study the space and time tendencies of occurrence of the target-species, identifying their conditioning factors, to support the elaboration of a monitoring program applied to aquaculture; 5) to isolate the target species for the creation of a bank of cultures, an essential condition for future studies of morphology, ecophysiology, molecular biology and ecotoxicology. This involves a joint effort by various teaching and/or research institutions in the State of São Paulo, namely, University of Taubaté (host institution), Fisheries Institute and Cetesb (agency of the Government of the State of São Paulo responsible for the control, inspection, monitoring and licensing of activities that generate pollution, with the aim of preserving and restoring the quality of the waters, the air and the soil). The interest and the contribution which these institutions bring to the project reflect the awareness of the need for this study, given the potential offered by the São Paulo coast for activities of aquaculture and also for leisure. The project is expected to run for 4 years, a period in which it is hoped to generate a wealth of knowledge on the subject, as well as a work team, which together will constitute the foundations for the continuity of the activities of this emerging center in future projects. (AU)

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