Stay away from algae decay

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.

Scientists link climate, Great Lakes `dead zones'

Capital News Service
LANSING — Scientists are studying how extreme weather associated with climate change may produce more of the algae that create dead zones in the Great Lakes. Figuring it out may help government agencies manage the threat algae poses in light of further projected changes in climate. Climate change presents a “perfect storm” for the Great Lakes because the sequence and intensity of extreme weather creates just the right conditions for blooms to flourish, said R. Jan Stevenson, co-director of Michigan State University’s Center for Water Sciences. He heads a research team studying the situation. Over the next three years, the work will include modeling of Muskegon Lake in Muskegon County, Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron, Grand Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan and the Grand River – the state’s longest river — which is one of the biggest sources of nutrients that flow into Lake Michigan, Stevenson said.