Algae used to detect water pollution

“TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Scientists in Israel have discovered a new way to test for water pollution by “listening” to what the plants growing in water have to say.

By shining a laser beam on the tiny pieces of algae floating in the water and measuring the rate of photosynthesis, the researchers said they hear sound waves that tell them the type and amount of contamination in the water. It will tell the quality more accurately and easily than labor-intensive methods now used like chemical and radioactive carbon testing.

Depending on the condition of the algae and the rate of photosynthesis, some of the heat is shot back into the water, creating sound waves, Dubinsky said.

With a special underwater microphone, researchers are able to analyze the strength of the sound waves and determine the health of the algae and the condition of the surrounding water.

“Algae suffering from lead poisoning, like waste discharged from battery and paint manufacturing plants, will produce a different sound than those suffering from lack of iron or exposure to other toxins,” said researcher Yulia Pinchasov.

As water sources deteriorate worldwide, the testing of algae will probably become more in demand.

Scientists “listen” to plants to find water pollution
-By Ari Rabinovitch

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080814/sc_nm/water_pollution_plants_dc;_ylt=Army9zkjIuMJ2NIrHS7slohpl88F

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