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Ocean Roundup

April 14, 2006

Sugars and other carbohydrates already have a bad reputation with dieters. Now they’re getting unpopular with conservationists, too.


Are sugars killing corals? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

All over the world, coral reefs are dying, and new research shows that sugars may be a major cause. David Kline at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama found that runoff from developed areas contains large amounts of sugar compounds from sewage and agricultural waste. These sugars promoted the growth of bacteria in reef communities, and the bacterial blooms killed the corals. Currently, water treatment ignores these compounds.

Well, you’ve heard of the human genome project; now scientists have sequenced the genome of a column of ocean water. By studying the genome of this whole community of microorganisms, the team can better understand how these creatures affect ocean nutrients, and the composition of earth’s atmosphere. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.