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Seagrass Fights Disease

March 1, 2017

Underwater seagrass meadows combat disease.

Transcript

Artisanal fishing on a seagrass meadow in Indonesia Steven J Lutz, GRID-Arendal, CC BY-NC 2.0,cropped

Artisanal fishing on a seagrass meadow in Indonesia. (Steven J Lutz/GRID-Arendal, CC BY-NC 2.0, cropped)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Seagrass to the rescue. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Although they grow along most of the world’s coastlines, underwater seagrass meadows can be easy to miss. But a new study in Science magazine suggests that the plants can fight disease.

JOLEAH LAMB (Cornell University):

We found that the seagrass meadows are actually reducing several bacteria that can cause diseases in humans and marine animals.  

HIRSHON:

Cornell ecologist Joleah Lamb and her team report that levels of harmful bacteria dropped by 50% in areas with seagrass beds compared to seagrass-free zones. The microbes can cause gastrointestinal illnesses like dysentery.

LAMB:

We all became sick in Indonesia when we were studying the health of the coral reefs. So we really started thinking about all of these cool things that seagrass can do.

HIRSHON:

Lamb says there’s evidence that conserving seagrass meadows could safeguard the coral reefs as well. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard