The EPA recently awarded $760,000 to Iowa State Researchers to study blue-green algae, known as cyanobacteria, a microscopic organism that lives in lakes and streams, usually in low numbers. Cyanobacteria has the ability to produce toxic byproducts, and can grow quickly and form blooms that discolor the water. Recent large scale blooms in lakes and reservoirs across the country have focused attention on the problem.
Adina Howe, a BCB faculty in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, and PI on the grant, will be focusing on understanding the bacteria that produce the harmful toxins. Doing so will provide insights into the dynamics of these harmful algal blooms, helping us to understand how and why they form, she said.