Study sheds light on causes of toxin-producing cyanobacterial blooms in California lake

Posted May 6, 2022

SCCWRP and its partners have completed a two-year study that has identified genetic and environmental factors that appear to be triggering and exacerbating toxin-producing cyanobacterial blooms in California’s largest freshwater lake.

The study, completed in March, found that wind events at Clear Lake in Northern California can increase levels of nutrients and dissolved oxygen in the lake’s surface layers, potentially causing toxin-producing cyanobacteria to proliferate suddenly and rapidly. The study also found that genetic markers can be used to track how the ratio of toxin-producing cyanobacteria to non-toxin-producing cyanobacteria changes throughout a bloom event.

The insights from the Clear Lake study are expected to help managers statewide develop better-informed strategies for mitigating and preventing bloom events.

Already, researchers are planning to launch a follow-up study seeking to identify the environmental conditions that are triggering cyanobacteria to turn on and off their toxin-producing genes.

More news related to: Eutrophication, Harmful Algal Blooms