• Project No 1006
  • Project Name Implications for enumeration, toxicity and bloom formation: 'Are there more toxin genes than toxic cyanobacteria'?
  • Lead Organisation SA Water
  • Research Lead AWQC
  • Main Researcher Paul Monis
  • Completion Year 2012

Project Description

Blue-green algae reduce water quality, especially when they produce toxins. Each algal cell can grow, reproduce all its DNA, and split into two ‘daughter’ cells, then those two ‘daughter’ cells produce four more until the numbers of algal cells bloom to extremely high numbers. High algal growth rates are associated with favourable environmental conditions (for the algae), stationary growth rates occur when the production of new cells is about the same as the number of dying cells, and if more cells die than are reproduced, the growth rate declines. The ability to predict or measure which of these three population growth rates is prevalent, and how much toxin is being produced, is information that the water industry needs to select the best methods for treating water. This project analysed the amount of DNA, and some specific sequences of DNA which correspond to the genes coding for toxins; and related the DNA analysis to actual counts of cells and measurements of toxin in water samples. This allowed the development of an improved and more informative technique for forecasting and monitoring toxic blue-green algae blooms.