Modern harmful algae study centre opens

[Chile] The Institute of Fishing Development (IFOP) opened a modern centre for studies of harmful algae in Puerto Montt, in Los Lagos Region, an event attended by regional and national authorities.

According to IFOP Executive Director Leonardo Núñez, the Centre for the Study of Harmful Algae (CREAN) is “a research unit that includes operational actions, with national coverage, equipped with advanced human capital, equipment and infrastructure that is the main source of knowledge and information on harmful algal blooms, marine toxins and their effects, and with linkages at national and international level.”

Although the centre is physically located in Puerto Montt, as part of its assets, it incorporates researchers and equipment available in the regions of Aysén and Magallanes, oriented towards the main purpose it has. This purpose is “to have a unit to execute and coordinate scientific and technological research actions in addition to communication and data release, to provide and release knowledge that makes it possible to understand and minimize the effects of harmful blooms and aquatic toxins, given their impact on the social and economic environment, and to facilitate decision making in food safety and productive activities,” said Leonardo Guzman, head of the aquaculture division.

All the research and operational actions can be addressed in long-term programs, both through research under the direct responsibility of the Centre’s own researchers and through collaborative research with working groups of the university system, regional centres and even with the different groups that lead research on these aspects at an international level.

Newly acquired equipment includes an HPLC coupled to a mass spectrometre oriented to the study of marine toxins in different matrices, shellfish, water or in the microalgae itself that will be exclusively oriented to marine toxin research.

The CREAN also has a nutrient self-analyzer to evaluate the presence of nitrites, nitrates, silicates and phosphates; a spectrum-fluorometer for the study of pigments, which is complemented with the old HPLC that will also be directed to these effects. It also has two meteorological stations to provide information needed for modeling, two electronic profilers for recording temperature, conductivity, pressure, oxygen, among others, in the water column; three farming chambers with temperature and light regulation system for microalgae farming, to complement the available capacities for these effects; as well as freezers and cooling systems needed for planned and developing work.

In the new centre training will be carried out oriented to the whole working team, in their respective specialties, covering aspects linked to the use of molecular biology for the identification of microalgae; progress and current status of the taxonomy of harmful microalgae of relevance for the Chilean seas and the biology and ecology of certain microalgae linked to lipophilic toxins, including the development of skills for their cultivation. All these aspects will be addressed in Punta Arenas with the support of international experts.

 

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