Cyanobacteria - a blooming nuisance!

Austen Buck is an expert in microbiology

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This #TechnicalTuesday, Austen Buck is talking about cyanobacteriota and its associated risks and challenges. 

Cyanobacteriota can be blooming nuisance to the water sector and trying to identify the appropriate controls can be challenging. So what is cyanobacteriota? How can it impact the water system and what can be done to control it?

Cyanobacteriota are a Gram-negative bacteria that produce energy through photosynthesis. "Cyanobacteria" previously represented ‘blue-green algae’ at a phylum level, but due to rules of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP), cyanobacteriota is now proposed as the correct name for the phylum and has been accepted as the validly published phylum name by the ICNP.

Cyanobacteriota blooms in surface water sources can lead to significant challenges to the water supply systems including taste and odour complaints due to the production of geosmin and 2-Methylisoborneol, fouling of downstream filtration processes leading to reduced output from drinking water treatment works and potential loss of supply to customers, and risks associated with algal toxins such as microcystin-LR and cylindrospermopsins in raw waters. Climate change may also lead to increased growth of toxin producing cyanobacteriota species in deeper levels within the water column.

Multiple control strategies have been used in catchment to minimise the impact of algal blooms in surface water sources to varying degrees of success. One technology showing promise is the use of floating solar photovoltaics that minimise sunlight entering the surface water reservoir, reducing cyanobacteriota growth whilst generating electricity for operational uses.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Austen Buck

Principal Consultant (Microbiology)

Austen has held numerous positions in the water industry over the last 15 years, always with a focus on microbiology and water safety planning. He currently heads up WRc’s Microbiology Team and leads and supports on international and national projects with water suppliers, government departments and regulators regarding microbiological monitoring, risk assessment, management and control, and water safety planning. He holds a PhD in Public Health and Environmental Microbiology and has co-authored publications on virus and bacteriophage removal through membrane bioreactor technologies. Austen is a Chartered Scientist with the British Science Council, a corporate member of the Institute of Water (IWater), and an area committee member and mentor within IWater.

2023-03-14 14:27:00