Watershed Symposium 2018 has ended
Welcome to the official website of the 12th Annual Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium, November 14-15, 2018!  Free and open to all, the Symposium encourages a comprehensive review of the current state of our watershed while creating learning and networking opportunities for a broad array of stakeholders. Sessions cover a broad range of topics on water quality and watershed issues with local, regional, and national relevance. Hosted annually by Salt Lake County Watershed Planning & Restoration.

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Wednesday, November 14 • 11:20am - 12:00pm
Harmful Algal Blooms in Utah Lake: A Molecular Insight

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Harmful Algal Blooms in Utah Lake: A Molecular Insight

Our molecular analysis found that Aphanizomenon flos-aquae succeeded Synechococcus as the dominated species during the time of bloom. However, the piccocynaobacteria Synechococcus was the dominant species during non-bloom periods. This research supports that the cyanobacterial community composition in Utah Lake is very complex.

Full Abstract:
With climate change and population increase, harmful algal blooms (HABs) has been exacerbated in many freshwater ecosystems. Among all, the shallow Utah Lake has been experiencing extreme algal blooms in the summer in recent years, with the detected cyanobacterial numbers have gone up to 36 million cells per mL. Supported by USEPA STAR Grant, we conducted a holistic study of the lake in the summer of 2016 and 2017 by sampling both water and sediments on physical/chemical characteristics as well as overall microbial communities. In 2018, we also sampled seven sites across the lake from May to September at a monthly basis. The aim was to identify the microbial community composition and function change before, during and after the bloom. To accomplish the purposes, we sampled both depth integrated surface water and surface sediment at each sampling site and date. To understand more about cyanobacterial vertical movement, water samples from the surface, mid-depth and bottom of the lake, were collected from some of the sites. Water quality parameters, such as temperature, pH, conductivity and nutrients (ammonia-N, nitrate-N, nitrite-N, ortho-P, TP, TN, cBOD and heavy metals) were measured in-situ or at the U. High-throughput sequencing were applied as previously to measure the microbial community composition and diversity. Cyanotoxins (mostly microcystis) were measured using HPLC. Moreover, the expression of genes related to toxin production were quantified by real-time PCR. The linkages among water parameters, microbial community, cyanotoxin production and functional genes were further clarified from our study. We found that Aphanizomenon flos-aquae succeeded Synechococcus as the dominated species during the time of bloom. Heterotrophic bacteria were found to be negatively correlated with cyanobacterial communities. The presence of inorganic nitrogen source favored more for heterotrophs than cyanobacteria. Some heterotrophic strains (e.g. Flavobacterium) were found to scavenge on algal exudes and may be responsible for the removal of cyanotoxins. As for sediment, the minerology and P speciation results suggested that sediment was rich in calcite and more than 50% of TP was calcite-bound. Bloom-forming cyanobacteria were also detected from surface sediment due to decay or migrations. This research not only supports the notion that the cyanobacterial community composition in Utah Lake is more complex than revealed through microscopic techniques but also emphasizes the importance of internal cycling of nutrients in supporting HABs. Eventually, these results will be able to determine the ecosystem tipping point of Utah Lake.


Ramesh Goel

Professor, U of Utah
Dr. Ramesh Goel is a professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah. He researches in nutrient management in municipal wastewater treatment plants, surface water quality, environmental microbiology, virology.

Wednesday November 14, 2018 11:20am - 12:00pm MST
Lower Level - Ballroom A/B Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W 3100 S, West Valley City, UT 84119