Diligent ISW readers may remember this post from October about the discovery of the algae known as didymo (Didymosphena geminata, also known as "rock snot") on the North Island of New Zealand. Tests done by Biosecurity New Zealand indicated the presence of dead cells of the algae in several North Island Rivers, with all signs pointing to the arrival of didymo after being known on the South Island for several years.
As a commenter noted, no live cells were found in the North Island samples, and now Scoop news is reporting that the actual source of the dead cells was...contaminated sampling containers. Lids used to seal the containers were sent off in sampling equipment with microscopic amounts of dead didymo cells left over from lab testing. The lab says they have protocols in place to prevent the transfer of any live plant matter, and it looks like they will be adding steps to prevent the transfer of dead organic material as well.
Tip of the virtual hat to the Protect Your Waters website for posting a link to this story.
Hi Jennifer - You've got a wonderful chronology here of didymo's spread.
Also interesting is US EPA's summary of the state of knowledge on didymo at http://www.epa.gov/region8/water/didymosphenia/White%20Paper%20Jan%202007.pdf.
I'm particularly intrigued with how in places like British Columbia where didymo is native, its current habit of producing copius slime is actually a radical change in lifestyle. I've summarized some of the fascinating didymo facts in the article, Rare Algae Morphs Into Widespread Nuisance.
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