Current WRP Projects: Project 28

Characterization of Algal Blooms Affecting Wyoming Irrigation Infrastructure: Microbiological Groundwork for Effective Management

  • Project Number:  28
  • PIs:  Naomi Ward, Assistant Professor, University of Wyoming, and Blaire Steven, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Wyoming.
  • Status:  Pending
  • Period:  03/01/2009 - 02/28/2011


Eutrophication, resulting from increased nutrient input into a water body, is one of the most pervasive water quality problems in the United States, affecting lakes, estuaries, streams, and wetlands.  Eutrophication is often driven by human activities such as agriculture, where fertilizer run-off and soil erosion are major sources of the nutrient load. The effects of eutrophication include algal/cyanobacteria blooms, leading to hypoxia of the water column and subsequent decline in submerged vegetation, and fish kills. Locally, management of algal blooms represents a significant cost to maintaining the irrigation infrastructure in Wyoming. The effectiveness and environmental impact of these algae treatment strategies are not well understood. It is very difficult to estimate or monitor the total amount of algaecides released into the environment, and the full range of species affected remains unknown. Development of more effective algae treatment strategies is hampered by a knowledge gap: we have not identified the key algal and bacterial species and processes involved in establishing, maintaining, and degrading algal blooms in Wyoming lakes. We propose to address this knowledge gap and thus provide a sound microbiological foundation for long-term development of more targeted, effective algae treatment strategies. In order to achieve this objective, we will (1) Characterize algae/cyanobacteria species responsible for blooms, (2) Characterize the role of bloom-associated bacteria, and (3) Develop model systems to test bacterial/algal interactions. Our long-term goal is to anticipate the type and severity of the bloom and propose predictive management strategies (as opposed to the reactive treatment protocols currently employed).

Find us on Instagram (Link opens a new window)Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window)Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)Find us on LinkedIn (Link opens a new window)Find us on YouTube (Link opens a new window)