Study Shows One Source Of Toxic Algae Bloom Growth

Jan 8, 2015


A new study shows what creates conditions for the growth of toxic algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, in Ohio waterways may be the bacteria themselves. 

Lewis Wallace of member station WYSO in Yellow Springs explains.

Blue-green algae can produce the very things they like to feed off of, nitrogen and phosphorous. Those nutrients might already be in lakes because of fertilizer or sewer runoff—but cyanobacteria can create even more, which in turn, encourages more of the toxic green slime to grow.  
Kathryn Cottingham is a biology professor at Dartmouth and a lead author on the study.  
KC: I think it’s a sign to, oh, you know we’ve kind of been ignoring this but we can’t do that anymore.  
Because once there’s a bloom of toxic algae even in a relatively clear, clean lake—the problem could keep getting worse no matter what we do.  
But Cottingham says we should still address what we can control—runoff and pollution, as well as climate change. Blue-green algae blooms thrive in late summer—and the warmer the water, the better.