Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Getting on top of toxin production


Wednesday 31 October, 2012

Getting on top of toxin production

University of Waikato ecologist Professor David Hamilton has been awarded a $920,000 Marsden Grant to study toxin production found in blue-green algae in lakes.

His research project is titled “Toxic in crowds: the triggers of toxin production in planktonic cyanobacteria”. Cyanobacteria are commonly called blue-green algae. Some species can produce potent toxins which affect humans through drinking water or contact recreation, as well as other organisms that live in the water. Blue-green algae are stimulated to grow and form blooms by increasing levels of nutrients.

Recent records of increases in nutrient loads to lakes are therefore of particular concern, both from an environmental point of view and for human health considerations. Professor Hamilton and his colleagues, including Dr Susie Wood from Cawthron in Nelson, have found that when blue-green algae congregate into dense blooms they can rapidly ramp up the rate of toxin production. “This project will try to understand why blue-green algae produce toxins and what specific triggers make the blue-green algae increase toxin production when they form blooms.”

Professor Hamilton is one of six Waikato academics who received Marsden Grants totalling $3.6 million in the latest round of funding, which is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Marsden Fund Council, and funded by the New Zealand Government.

He has been researching aspects of water quality for more than 20 years and is currently part of a team that is trialling an aeration device on Lake Rotoehu, pumping oxygen into the water to counteract the harm done by nutrients and sediment that have leached or run off into the lake.

“Blooms of blue-green algae are increasing across the globe and scientists are trying to understand why. One culprit may be intensification of agricultural land leading to more nutrients to fuel blooms of blue-green algae. Another may be climate change since many lakes across the globe have warmed by 1-2 degrees Celsius over the past two decades; even more rapidly than increases in air temperature.”

Blue-green algae are favoured by higher temperatures because they originate from bacteria which grow more rapidly than other algae at elevated temperatures. The Marsden funding will help to identify both the causes of blue-green algal blooms and the relationship of blooms to toxin production. “Ultimately it is hoped that the outcomes of the project will improve knowledge of how to manage the occurrence of blue-green algal blooms and avoid the possibility of toxin production by them.”

Professor Hamilton, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lake Restoration, also works internationally sharing information with researchers from other countries as they seek long-term solutions that can be applied to any freshwater lake system.

He is chief scientist for Lake Ecosystem Restoration New Zealand (LERNZ) - a ten-year $10 million initiative to identify and remediate threats to lake ecosystems. Through LERNZ computer models are being developed that can be used for prediction and management, and the model outputs are being adopted by regional councils and policy makers to assist in future planning of lake restoration.

“Our LERNZ group also has buoys in nine lakes in New Zealand, China and Singapore that send out readings every fifteen minutes, so we’re getting immediate and accurate information and can respond quickly if we see dramatic changes in water quality. The benefit to working internationally is that you can collate data, share information, knowledge, software and hardware amongst like-minded scientists across the globe.” Related to this, Professor Hamilton was one of the founding members of GLEON, the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network, which now has more than 350 members worldwide who are making high-frequency measurements in lakes.

This year, Professor Hamilton won the environmental scientist category at the Waikato Kudos Awards held to acknowledge scientific achievement.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Cosmetics & Pollution: Proposal To Ban Microbeads

Cosmetic products containing microbeads will be banned under a proposal announced by the Minister for the Environment today. Marine scientists have been advocating for a ban on the microplastics, which have been found to quickly enter waterways and harm marine life. More>>

ALSO:

NIWA: 2016 New Zealand’s Warmest Year On Record

Annual temperatures were above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country, with very few locations observing near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) or lower. The year 2016 was the warmest on record for New Zealand, based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909. More>>

ALSO:

Farewell 2016: NZ Economy Flies Through 2016's Political Curveballs

Dec. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy batted away some curly political curveballs of 2016 to end the year on a high note, with its twin planks of a booming construction sector and rampant tourism soon to be joined by a resurgent dairy industry. More>>

ALSO:


NZ Economy: More Growth Than Expected In 3rd Qtr

Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the September quarter as a booming construction sector continued to underpin activity, spilling over into related building services, and was bolstered by tourism and transport ... More>>

  • NZ Govt - Solid growth for NZ despite fragile world economy
  • NZ Council of Trade Unions - Government needs to ensure economy raises living standards
  • KiwiRail Goes Deisel: Cans electric trains on partially electrified North Island trunkline

    Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) – KiwiRail, the state-owned rail and freight operator, said a small fleet of electric trains on New Zealand’s North Island would be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. More>>

  • KiwiRail - KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line
  • Greens - Ditching electric trains massive step backwards
  • Labour - Bill English turns ‘Think Big’ into ‘Think Backwards’
  • First Union - Train drivers condemn KiwiRail’s return to “dirty diesel”
  • NZ First - KiwiRail Going Backwards for Xmas
  • NIWA: The Year's Top Science Findings

    Since 1972 NIWA has operated a Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head, near Wellington... In June, Baring Head’s carbon dioxide readings officially passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level last reached more than three million years ago. More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Sci-Tech
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news