Harmful Algal Blooms in Iowa

Understanding environmental health and productivity: How can we use microbial indicators to assess ecosystem services and disturbances?

We use a systems approach to identify genetic and environmental factors controlling the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Iowa’s recreational lakes. We hypothesize that HAB ecology and cyanotoxin production are the predictable result of environmental factors, that the underlying genetic markers for cyanotoxin production are taxonomically controlled, and that incipient cyanotoxin-degrading microbes are present during HABs. The proposed research aims to test these hypotheses through development of monitoring and predictive tools to target future cyanotoxin monitoring and mitigation to the highest-risk recreational waters. The following objectives will be accomplished: conduct an integrated meta-analysis of physicochemical parameters and microbiome analyses of Iowa’s HAB-impacted recreational waters to develop a predictive model of HAB occurrence; develop scalable tools that can be used to rapidly monitor HABs and identify when additional cyanotoxin monitoring is necessary; identify emerging cyanotoxins within Iowa’s lakes and determine the freshwater HAB species linked to these toxins and the genetic systems that control toxin production; and identify and evaluate novel toxin-degraders for the mitigation of HAB cyanotoxins.

Jin Choi, ISU Kaoru Ikuma, ISU Betsy Swanner, ISU