Scientist Professor David Hamilton has been awarded a $920,000 University of Waikato Marsden Grant for his studies into toxin production in algae.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council lake restoration chairman and his colleagues have found when blue-green algae gather into blooms they rapidly increase toxin production in lakes. Some species can produce potent toxins which affect humans, through drinking water or recreation, as well as other organisms living in the water.
"This project will try to understand why blue-green algae produce toxins and what specific triggers make the blue-green algae increase toxin production when they form blooms," Prof Hamilton said. "Blooms of blue-green algae are increasing across the globe and scientists are trying to understand why."
As a result of the study, it is hoped knowledge can be gained on how best to manage the blue-green algae blooms.
Prof Hamilton has been researching aspects of water quality for more than 20 years and is part of a team trialling an aeration device on Lake Rotoehu, pumping oxygen into the water to combat the harm done by nutrients and sediment that fuel the algae growth.