Seaweed With Flesh-Eating Bacteria Found On US Shores

Seaweed With Flesh-Eating Bacteria Found On US Shores

( – Researchers from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) warn that the Sargassum seaweed that has been washing ashore on the coastlines of South Florida is particularly harmful due to its association with flesh-eating bacteria.

According to FAU biology assistant professor Tracy Mincer, the lab experiments they conducted showed the Vibrio bacteria on the seaweed are incredibly aggressive and would actively seek out plastic and adhere to it in minutes. Furthermore, they discovered that microorganisms employ attachment factors to adhere to plastics. Similar mechanisms are used by pathogens.

The zot gene detected in the bacteria is responsible for making toxins that cause ‘leaky gut syndrome’ in vertebrates, as the researchers discovered. Irritable bowel disorder, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease may develop if germs from the digestive tract are able to reach the circulation via stomach perforations.

Exposure to open wounds, such as those left by recent surgery, tattoos, or piercings, may result in infection from these germs. Other symptoms include nausea, stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea that is watery, skin sores, vomiting, and hazardously low blood pressure. Eating raw oysters that have been tainted may potentially cause vibriosis.

According to Mincer, fish, along with other marine creatures, have a higher risk of swallowing the bacteria and getting digestive problems as a result of these zot genes. Therefore, if a fish is infected with this Vibrio bacteria, the fish would excrete waste elements like phosphate and nitrogen, which may promote the development of Sargassum and other organisms in the area. Several strains of Vibrio bacteria have been located on the shores in the Sargassum seaweed.

The public, Mincer said, should be informed of the dangers involved. Until the dangers of harvesting and processing Sargassum biomass are well understood, caution should be maintained.

The bacteria and seaweed develop more rapidly in the warmer months and like warm and brackish water, such as at the mouths of rivers that empty into the ocean. There has been a significant increase in seaweed over most of the Gulf of Mexico.

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