Study tells of pumpkin-colored zombies


Reducing nutrient pollution may help prevent human disease

Just in time for Halloween, a new study reveals that pumpkin-colored zombies may be running rampant through your local salt marsh.

The research, led by Dr. David Johnson of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, isn’t quite as spooky as it sounds. These zombies aren’t flesh-eating humanoids of the Walking Dead variety, but tiny shrimp infected by a microscopic parasite. Even so, their growing abundance in nutrient-fueled salt marshes may well portend future threats to humankind.

The study, co-authored by Dr. Richard Heard of the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, appears in this week’s issue of Ecosphere. It builds on a long-term experiment in which researchers have been adding nitrogen to a New England salt marsh each year since 2004. Their goal? To investigate how these key coastal ecosystems respond to nutrient-rich runoff from fertilized fields, wastewater treatment plants, and other human sources.

Continue reading at Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Image via D. Johnson, Virginia Institute of Marine Science