Walt Whitman High School Sophomore Andrew Lorente’s proposal on brown tide in the Great South Bay has been accepted into Barcode Long Island, and he will continue the next steps to completing this research.
The Barcode Long Island program by the DNA Learning Center is in collaboration with Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the American Museum of Natural History. This program invites high school students “to gain an intuitive understanding of the crucial interdependence between humans and the natural environment.”
This program allows students to explore the biodiversity of Long Island through DNA barcoding, providing proper training and materials to assist the students in their research.
Lorente’s proposal included the presence of brown tide in the Great South Bay, and suggestions to prevent brown tide as well. His next steps include collecting algae samples from the Great South Bay and identifying species that cause this brown tide. He will then isolate and identify the algae at Whitman, extracting their DNA and barcoding them to confirm the specific species.
His proposal came from an interest in the topic in the summer of 2020. There was an algae bloom on the broadside of the bay and his mom informed him of the occurrence. Lorente then chose brown tide from the Great South Bay as his research topic in 2021, and has continued since.
“I’ve been collecting and studying samples for over almost two years now,” he said.
Currently, Lorente is still collecting samples, studying them under a microscope and collecting data. Most recently, he is trying to grow algae from these samples to figure out what variables can help algae growth.
“I’m looking forward to seeing results and how we could potentially stop or slow down the growth of algae,” Lorente said.
He said that although brown tide doesn’t directly affect humans, it affects a lot of sea life like oysters. However, Lorente mentioned in Florida that a red tide algae bloom occurred, and in this instance, it had a direct effect on humans. This project is important in understanding these algae blooms and how to avoid them from happening.
After receiving results, Lorente will send his findings back to Barcode Long Island, and he will then use DNA barcoding and other materials to identify the type of algae he has grown.