From: The University of Tennessee – Knoxville
Published May 31, 2017 11:12 AM

UT Study Shows Virus Infection May be Linked to Toledo Water Crisis

In August 2014, toxins from algal blooms in Lake Erie shut down the city of Toledo, Ohio’s water supply, leaving half a million residents without potable water for more than two days. A new study co-authored by UT researchers shows that a virus may have been involved in the crisis and suggests methods for more stringent monitoring of water supplies.

Steven Wilhelm, Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professor of Microbiology, along with UT graduate students Joshua Stough and Lauren Krausfeldt, worked with a team of 25 researchers to examine the physiological traits of Microcystis, the cyanobacterial organism responsible for scum-like algal blooms in Lake Erie. They found that it was consistent with algal blooms from 2012 and 2013 except for one thing—the Microcystis cells had a viral infection. Typically, toxins from algal blooms are trapped within the cell until the cell dies. But virus infections can cause cells to break open, leaking the toxin into the water and subsequently into water facility intake pipes and treatment centers.

The viruses analyzed in the study infect only bacteria and do not infect humans.

“The study changes the way we think about how the toxin moves around aquatic systems and gets into water supplies,” said Wilhelm, who has done work on Lake Erie since 1997. “It may help us understand how these organisms persist in nature.”

Read more at The University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

2017©. Copyright Environmental News Network