University of Nevada, Reno researcher to create predictive models to better protect pets and humans
While algae growing in our lakes, ponds and reservoirs can be quite visible, the algae in many of our rivers and their tributaries is often not so obvious, lurking on the bottom of the rivers, and clinging to rocks. Yet, some of these riverbed blue-green algae, referred to as “cyanobacteria,” can create algal blooms that produce toxins harmful not only to aquatic life, but also to pets, livestock and humans. University of Nevada, Reno Assistant Professor Joanna Blaszczak is conducting research to identify the specific conditions conducive to producing these blooms and their toxins, so that water managers can know when they are going to occur and take actions to better protect animals, humans and river ecosystems.

The research will be conducted through 2023, funded by almost $200,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology. Blaszczak, in the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, is partnering with several other entities to study three river systems in northern California – the Russian, Klamath and Eel – to research one type of these toxins in particular, a neurotoxin called anatoxin. She says the Mediterranean climate conditions in northern California, with long, dry summers, are partly what allows the “cyanoHABS” (cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms) to form.

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