News of the WeekEcology

A Slimy Invader Blooms in the Rivers of Patagonia

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Science  07 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6013, pp. 18
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6013.18

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Summary

The alga Didymosphenia geminata, or Didymo, is unwelcome wherever it blooms. It forms large colonies of brownish slime that cling to vegetation and streambeds, extending leathery trailers into the current. It is established in several Northern Hemisphere locations—including in Canada and the eastern United States, Europe, and Asia. But it was not seen in the Southern Hemisphere until 2004, when Didymo appeared in New Zealand. In 2010, to the dismay of naturalists and Chile's tourism industry, it gained a foothold in Patagonia. The propagation of D. geminata may be unstoppable, although officials in Chile have launched a massive effort to halt it.

* Patricio Segura is a freelance journalist in Coyhaique, Chile.

  • * Patricio Segura is a freelance journalist in Coyhaique, Chile.