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CWA Partner Webinar:

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Genetic Surveillance and Early-Stage Detection of Harmful Algal Blooms Using Environmental RNA Technologies & Advanced Molecular Biological Sampling

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a consequence of an ecology that is out of balance. In the Great Lakes, HABs are increasing in frequency due to complex interactions among multiple factors. These HABs can produce neurotoxins such as saxitoxin, anatoxin-a, and microcystin, and the hepatotoxin cylindrospermopsin. Ingestion of and physical contact with affected water causes illness or irritation but the aerosolization of anatoxin and saxitoxin adds another layer to the public health risk. Surveillance and early detection of toxin-producing species and the microbial community is critical to mitigate the public health threat posed through recreational water use and drinking water supply. Applying modern molecular biology knowledge and practices to the Great Lakes aquatic environment and leveraging cutting-edge RNA biotechnologies can provide an early warning system for HABs. Through continuous sampling, capture of environmental RNA, and microbiome analysis early detection and mitigation of the effects of HABs are possible for water treatment facilities and water rights holders at large.

Viewers will learn: • About multifaceted ecological processes that cause and are caused by harmful algal blooms • The current state of knowledge surrounding cyanobacterial HAB toxins • How surveillance and early detection aid in mitigating effects of harmful algal blooms • How RNA technologies add value to current detection and mitigation practices • How utilizing genetic markers and complementary -omics strategies inform management decisions • How microbiome analyses provide a community snapshot that can be used to create a predictive algorithm for harmful algal blooms

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