Oregon State University Research Clarifies Hazards Posed by Harmful Algal Blooms


Among the 10 bodies of water in the research, toxigenic Dolichospermum cyanobacteria caused blooms in four of them

Research by Oregon State University has shed new light on the hazards associated with harmful algal blooms such as one four years ago that fouled drinking water in Oregon’s capital city of Salem.

The study led by Theo Dreher, emeritus professor of microbiology, involved sampling of cyanobacterial blooms from 10 Oregon lakes including Detroit Reservoir, which provides drinking water for Salem. Genome sequencing and toxin analyses enabled Dreher and collaborators in the OSU colleges of Science and Agricultural Sciences to identify the precise types of toxins produced by specific organisms.

“This information is important for protecting public health, both with regard to consumption of drinking water and exposure to toxins through recreation on lakes,” Dreher said. “Two toxin-producing Dolichospermum cyanobacteria were present in Detroit Reservoir, one producing a type of cylindrospermopsin and another producing an uncommon form of microcystin. Occurrences of toxins had been known previously, but now we know the precise toxin types and the organisms making them.”

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