Didymo Nuisance Blooms Hit Chilean Rivers

Saturday, June 5, 2010

An extensive bloom of the invasive diatom known as “didymo” (Didymosphenia geminata) has been identified in South America for the first time (see "Didymo Confirmed in Remote Chilean Rivers"). Didymo is of significant concern because it can erupt into massive “nuisance blooms” that cover stream and river bottoms. These dense masses substantially alter the habitat of invertebrates, fish, and other aquatic life. FORT scientist and diatom expert Sarah Spaulding confirmed that this bloom, found on 35 river miles of two remote Chilean rivers near Esquel, Argentina, was caused by didymo. Because didymo can survive in damp conditions for more than 30 days, it is easily transported from one stream to another on the gear of anglers and boaters — the suspected cause of most occurrences, including the one in Chile. Didymo is found in streams and rivers in much of North America and is expanding its geographic range.

Sarah Spaulding

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