Pathogens of Algae for Biocontrol and Biosecurity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Sch of Medicine, Medical Sci & Nutrition


Algae play an important role in water ecosystems and our future increasingly depends on the presence of both desirable and
undesirable algae. Desirable algae are, for example, seaweeds that we consume, use for biofuels, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
Whereas undesirable algae can form harmful algal blooms (HABs) that can alter the quality of water, with dramatic consequences for
wild and farmed fish and shellfish, as well as our supply of drinking water.
Micro and macroalgae are vulnerable to many diseases. The presence of pathogens and their potential spread to non-native areas can
significantly hinder seaweed production. Likewise, microscopic algae (i.e. cyanobacteria, diatoms, and dino-flagellates) that can form
HABs are also vulnerable to many pathogens. There are a wide range of microorganisms, including fungal, oomycete, protist, bacterial
and viral agents that can all reduce fitness or kill algae. Therefore, the central research aim that links all 10 training projects in PHABB
is to exploit the infection strategies of algal pathogens to either fight diseases that they cause in seaweeds or to harness these
infection tactics to combat harmful algal blooms.
To achieve this goal, PHABB brings together an exceptional combination of researchers in Europe from both academia and SMEs that
have unique expertise to train and mentor 10 early career researchers in understanding biological and evolutionary processes linked
to microbial community dynamics, virulence and host specificity of a range of pathogens of both desirable algae as well as
undesirable algae. The overall aim is to develop new disease management strategies in seaweeds and biocontrol measures of HABs
with the help of natural pathogens. The ESRs in PHABB will gain broad interdisciplinary skills plus a translational mindset through our
integrated and inter-sectoral training programme and will secure continued vital research on Biocontrol of HABs and Biosecurity of
seaweeds in Europe.


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