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UNR Researcher Looks At Harmful Algae Blooms

A woman crouching down in the middle of a river and collecting samples.
Joanna Blaszczak
University of Nevada, Reno Freshwater Ecology & Biogeochemistry Department
Laurel Genzoli, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montana, is sampling algae in the Klamath River.

The EPA has reported several dog and livestock deaths due to toxic algae blooms found in riverbeds. A researcher from UNR is examining what conditions cause these blooms.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, is a form of algae that clings to rocks on the bottom of rivers. These blooms are less visible than the algae often seen on lakes and ponds, and the toxins they produce can be deadly.

“These blooms are important because they pose a risk to both people and animals as well as aquatic life. So, in particular, the way that these cyanotoxins are often discovered is someone’s pet dog can die,” said Joanna Blaszczak, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Blaszczak has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Her research will be focused on three rivers in Northern California and will be conducted through 2023.

“Those are areas known to have cyanotoxin producing blooms of cyanobacteria. But these cyanotoxins that we’re studying, specifically antitoxin, they’re not only found in California but also around the globe,” explained Blaszczak.

Because this algae needs specific conditions to grow, there is hope this research will allow folks to predict when blooms will happen across the world.

Isaac Hoops is a senior studying at the Reynolds School of Journalism.

Isaac Hoops is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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