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Researchers ID Bacteria Contributing To Lake Algae Bloom

Satellite imagery of Chautauqua Lake’s algal bloom provided by Dr. Richard Stumpf, oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. This image was derived from the Sentinel-3 satellite as part of the Copernicus Program. Submitted photo

Researchers have identified one type of bacteria contributing to the recent algae bloom on Chautauqua Lake.

“The cyanobacterium (blue-green algae) that is dominating the bloom in Chautauqua Lake right now is called Gloeotrichia,” Dr. Tim Davis said.

Davis and Dr. George Bullerjahn are faculty members of Bowling Green State University currently studying the nutrient profile of the lake, as well as algae blooms and associated environmental conditions.

“We conducted a quick toxin test and found that the bloom was not currently producing the livertoxins, microcystins or cylindrospermopsins,” Davis said on Thursday. “Although some strains of Gloeotrichia have been associated with microcystins, it’s still important to be vigilant. Also, coming in contact with dense cyanobacteria blooms can cause skin rashes regardless of if they are or are not producing toxins.”

Davis said that due to the size of the bloom, satellite images can be used to detect it. A similar process has been used to track blooms on Lake Erie.

The county Health Department recently issued a news release with information on harmful algal blooms, including identification and avoidance.

Different types of blooms can produce different chemical byproducts and toxins, some of which may be harmful to humans and animals.

According to Davis, Gloeotrichia is capable of producing its own nitrogen, and thus is commonly found in lakes with high levels phosphorus but not necessarily high levels of nitrogen.

“We need to know more about the nutrient dynamics in the lake, but Gloeotrichia is commonly found in lakes in Maine so it’s not unusual,” Davis said.

A 2016 report issued by the Lakes Environmental Association of Maine explains that “Gloeo blooms are generally short-lived, lasting only about two weeks in late July and early August. Smaller amounts of the algae can be seen in early July and persist into September.”

The full report, including information on Gloeotrichia studies in Maine, can be found at https://www.mainelakes.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2016–Gloeo–Report–Final.pdf.

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