What are algal blooms? Algal blooms are commonly defined as ephemeral events of rapid proliferation of phytoplankton, leading to the formation of dense assemblages in diverse aquatic ecosystems, including freshwater rivers and lakes, polar regions, coastal waters and open oceans. They are dominated by one or more species of phytoplankton, which are single-celled eukaryotic and prokaryotic photosynthetic microorganisms that form the basis of aquatic food webs. An algal bloom can reach a concentration of tens of thousands of cells per liter, and can vary in duration, from days to weeks, and in scale, from tens to thousands of square kilometers. Blooms often cause a change in the color of water, owing to the chlorophyll and accessory pigments that are present in photosynthetic organisms or due to other cellular components. This optical property enables detection of large-scale blooms from space by satellites, allowing quantification of blooms across the globe all year long (Figure 1A).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)