By LUCY SCHROEDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — As if you needed another reason not to play with stinky piles of algae: Decaying algae can promote the growth of bacteria that could make people and animals sick, according to recent research. Scientists tracked the changes in bacterial communities while Cladophora algae decays. Bacteria harmful to humans and wildlife were among the many microbes they found, according to their study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. It is possible when people come in contact with the algae or water around it, they may be exposed to harmful bacteria, said Murulee Byappanahalli, a microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center and one of the authors of the study. No solid cause-and-effect evidence links human illness to Cladophora, as those types of studies are difficult to conduct, Byappanahalli said.