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Microbiology in the News

UT Ranks in Top 10 for Cyanobacterial Bloom Research

UT Ranks in Top 10 for Cyanobacterial Bloom Research

The University of Tennessee is ranked seventh in the scientific front of ecology and environmental sciences for cyanobacterial bloom research, according to the sixth annual Research Fronts report, “Phosphorus loads and pollution and health risk of cyanobacterial bloom.”

The Research Fronts report identifies the hottest emerging specialty areas in scientific research. Fronts are formed when several highly cited papers are frequently cited together, showing a common theme of research. Identifying and tracking these fronts provide advantages for publishers, research administrators, policy makers, and others who support and advance the research field.

The amount of core research papers published from an institution determines ranking within a research field. UT published four core papers out of the total 38 included in the report.

Cyanobacterial blooms occur when large amounts of wastewater containing phosphorus and nitrogen enter a body of water from industrial, agricultural, or residential areas, turning the water blue or green from an increase in algae. Toxins released by the blooms can result in ecological fallout, endangering the health and safety of the water, aquatic plants, and animals.

Core papers in the field of cyanobacterial bloom research focused on four main aspects: the impact of nutrient loads on the blooms; diversity, growth, metabolism, genetics, and toxin production of different cyanobacteria species; health-risks associated with cyanobacteria toxins; and control strategies for controlling blooms in specific areas.

Steven Wilhelm, the Kenneth and Blair Mossman Professor of Microbiology, is a key researcher at UT for cyanobacterial blooms. Wilhelm’s lab uses biomolecular tools such as DNA and RNA sequencing, metabolomics, and others to study cyanobacteria, viruses, bacteria, and algae.

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