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Public officials and scientists need a different way to monitor toxins from algae blooms so they can be detected quicker and before they spread through the water supply, according to a new UT study about the 2014 Toledo crisis that affected Monroe County. 

Steven Wilhelm, professor in the Department of Microbiology, has been studying Lake Erie since 1997. He served as a co-author of a study published in the May 23 online edition of the Environmental Science and Technology journal that examined traits of the cyanobacteria organism responsible for scum-like algal blooms in Lake Erie.

The Detriot News and Michigan Radio featured the study.

The team found that it “was consistent with algal blooms from 2012 and 2013” except the microcystis cells had an “exceptionally severe viral infection.”

“The study changes the way we think about how the toxin moves around aquatic systems and get into water supplies,” said Steven Wilhelm, professor of microbiology at the University of Tennessee who has done work on Lake Erie since 1997. “It may help us understand how these organisms persist in nature.”