Cyanophage treatment development for mitigating freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms caused by cyanobacteria

Project ID: 20094
Principal Investigator: Christopher Waechter
Research Topic: Water Quality
Funded Fiscal Years: 2020, 2021 and 2022
Keywords: None

Research Question

This study will identify a new treatment for harmful algal blooms that could potentially lead to Reclamation administered HAB treatments, as well as help develop mitigation techniques that could be commercialized with potential future private industry partners. Recent large scale harmful algal bloom (HAB) events in lakes and large river systems emphasize the need for more research on freshwater HAB to improve water quality and protect public health.

Need and Benefit

Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) are a major problem in the lakes and reservoirs of the U.S. and around the world. HAB cause a number of health, environmental, and economic impacts that result in millions of dollars of damage. These blooms cause hypoxic conditions, can generate toxic chemicals, and impact human economic activities. HAB can disrupt fisheries, water treatment, power generation, recreation, and numerous other activities. HAB are primarily caused by nutrients in runoff from agricultural activity. It is not feasible to discontinue the use of fertilizers in agriculture, and the current technologies for nutrient removal are not scalable to the levels needed to prevent many of the large scale HAB that are occurring.
The need for simple, environmentally friendly treatments to mitigate the impacts of HAB is huge. There are virus-like particles that infect the algae and cyanobacteria that cause HAB, and they already exist in the reservoirs where HAB are a problem. No new or exotic species would be introduced to the ecology of the impacted reservoirs, and any excess viral load introduced into the reservoir would be unlikely to have any negative effects on the natural systems occurring in them.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20