Universities in Iowa, Ohio receive toxic algae research grants

[USA] With some federal help, researchers at Iowa State University (ISU) and Ohio State University (OSU) are looking to build up defenses against toxic algae growth in source waters.

“Iowa State University researchers received a $760,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study overgrowths of harmful algae that increasingly threaten public health in the state,” according to Newswise. “The three-year grant will allow ISU scientists to look into the genetic and environmental factors that give rise to the overgrowths of algae, known as harmful algal bloom (HAB), in Iowa lakes and to develop new methods to predict and combat their occurrence.”

HABs are emerging as one of the biggest issues facing drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. They form due to excess nitrogen and phosphorus and their growth is encouraged by warming water temperatures. In worst case scenarios, they can lead to contaminated drinking water.

Specifically, the researchers will work on better understanding the bacteria behind algal toxin in an effort to better understand how the blooms form, per the report.

“[Adina] Howe and the research team intend to develop new methods that make surveillance of harmful algal blooms more efficient and less costly,” per Newswise. “Much of their research will focus on microcystin, the toxin produced by cyanobacteria.”

The grant comes at a time that the EPA seems to be making a concerted effort on fighting toxic algae. The agency also recently granted researchers in Ohio, one of the nation’s most algae-plagued states, $681,343 toward HAB research.

“Ohio State scientists will use the funding to develop a watershed classification system to diagnose and manage HABs in the upper Ohio River basin by determining characteristics related to distribution, duration, and intensity of HABs,” according to Environmental Protection.


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