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An "Annals of Medicine" article in The New Yorker of April 11, 2004,
examined the "mystery of neurological disease on Guam." One of the theories
involves cyanobacteria that invade the roots of cycads, the seeds of which
are consumed by fruit bats, which in turn are consumed by the Chamorros, who
then die of lytico-bodig. The blue-green algae produce a toxic compound
called BMAA, which may be the culprit. Or maybe not; the jury is evidently
still out on the cause.
But, I was surprised to learn that "Cyanobacteria are the oldest living
things on earth. They may go back as many as three and a half billion
years. Through photosynthesis, they gave us the oxygen we breathe." So
think kindly of your BGA; you wouldn't be here if they weren't.
John T. Fitch
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