Harmful Algal Blooms and Toxins

Juliette L. Smith, Associate Professor

The Smith Lab investigates the chemistry, ecology, and ecotoxicology of bioactive compounds synthesized by harmful algal blooms in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. I am interested in 1) how we impact harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the production of their associated toxins, and 2) how they, in turn, contaminate our ecosystem, alter aquatic communities or ecological function, and/or threaten public health. More specifically, I am interested in anthropogenic and natural drivers of HABs and toxin production, the persistence, distribution, and fate of the natural toxins, food web transfer and biotransformation, and the allelopathic or toxic effect of these compounds on organisms and ecosystems. To support these interests, I develop analytical methods and tools (e.g., UPLC-MS/MS) and utilize in-situ oceanographic instrumentation for such goals as explorative research, resource management, and evaluation of human risk. 

Current research interests:

1. Distribution, persistence, and fate of toxins in ecosystems (environmental chemistry)

2. Trophic transfer, metabolism, and depuration of toxins (metabalomics, toxicokinetics)

3. Environmental and biological drivers of HABs and toxin production (ecophysiology)

4. Effects of phycotoxins on aquatic animals and ecosystem health (ecotoxicology)

5. Chemical ecology of HABs and their toxins (chemical ecology)

6. Nutrient pollution and climate change effects on HABs

7. Aquaculture sustainability and seafood safety

Red tide bloom (Alexandrium fundyense) in the Nauset Marsh Estuary System, Cape Cod, MA. Photo by D. Kulis.

Primary Investigator: Dr. Juliette L. Smith