Polychlorinated Biphenyls and DDT Alter Species Composition in Mixed Cultures of Algae

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Science  05 May 1972:
Vol. 176, Issue 4034, pp. 533-535
DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4034.533


Either DDT or polychlorinated biphenyls were added to mixed cultures containing a marine diatom and a marine green alga that were sensitive and resistant, respectively, to these organochlorine compounds. The diatom grew faster and was therefore dominant in control cultures, but its dominance diminished in treated cultures, even at concentrations of chlorinated hydrocarbons that had no apparent effect in pure cultures. Such stable pollutants could disrupt the species composition of phytoplankton communities, thereby affecting whole eco-systems.