State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2012OR127G
Title: Biological drivers of freshwater cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom extremes assessed via next-generation DNA sequencing technology
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 9/01/2012
End Date: 8/31/2015
Congressional District: OR-004
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Water Supply
Keywords: Cyanobacterial bloom, microcystin, geosmin, genetic identification
Principal Investigators: Dreher, Theo (Oregon State University); Graham, Jennifer (U.S. Geological Survey)
Federal Funds: $ 243,835
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 246,791
Abstract: Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs) are often associated with toxins and/or taste-and-odor compounds that degrade the quality of public freshwater resources. Extreme hydrometerological events, especially those that result in increased temperatures and decreased water flow, are likely to contribute to increases in CHABs. At present, our understanding of the drivers of cyanobacterial population dynamics is insufficient to accurately predict CHAB events. The proposed study addresses some of the major remaining informatStart dateion gaps in understanding the influences on CHAB populations by using high-throughput pyrosequencing to genetically identify and catalog the cyanobacteria and other bacteria present in three CHAB-affected drinking water reservoirs in Kansas, Texas and Oregon. Two of these lakes are the subjects of long-term USGS studies, which are analyzing water samples year-round for a comprehensive set of physical, chemical and phycological water quality parameters. This study will merge acquired genetic data with those parameters, assembling an exceptionally broad dataset that will be analyzed by regression and multivariate analysis to identify the factors contributing to CHAB emergence, persistence and decline. The genetic analyses of this study will (1) reveal genus/species/strain changes in the cyanobacterial population structure over time; (2) identify the producers of cyanotoxins (microcystin and anatoxin-a) and the taste-and-odor compound geosmin; and (3) identify the population structure of bacteria, including those specifically associated with cyanobacterial colonies, which may influence CHABs by serving as competitors, synergistic mutualists or predators. Exploratory studies will (1) investigate the value of remote (satellite) sensing in providing an integrated estimate of CHAB relative biomass, and (2) the influence of cyanophages on CHAB decline. This study will provide valuable comparative data from three latitudinally and climatically distinct sites and will provide an exceptionally comprehensive dataset that will help move us towards successfully employing mathematical models for bloom event prediction.

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