Water Research paper on exploring the benefits of combined microscopy, next-generation sequencing, and cell integrity methods for cyanobacteria removal

Nuisance and harmful algae researchers Arash Zamyadi, Florence Choo, Richard Stuetz and Rita Henderson, together with industry and partner university collaborators have published a paper titled “Diagnosing water treatment critical control points for cyanobacterial removal: Exploring benefits of combined microscopy, next-generation sequencing, and cell integrity methods”  in the prestigious IWA journal Water Research. The objectives of this study were to (1) identify the critical control points for breakthrough and accumulation of cells by investigating the fate of cells during treatment processes using a combination of taxonomy, cell integrity and next-generation sequencing (NGS), and (2) assess the impact of pre-treatment processes on breakthrough prevention at critical control points, and the benefits of cell integrity and NGS analysis for improved management purposes. This paper presents the results of an unprecedented cyanobacterial monitoring program conducted in four full scale water treatment plants located in three different climate zones. Cyanobacterial cell integrity and accumulation during operation process were assessed for the first time using next generation of gene sequencing methods. NGS analysis led to detection of cyanobacterial and melainabacteria orders in water samples that were not identified by microscopy. 80 ± 5% of cells were completely lysed post pre-oxidation (for both ozone and potassiumpermanganate). However unlike pre-ozonation, the remaining cells were undamaged cells with the potential to accumulate and grow within the plants post-KMnO4 treatment, particularly in clarifier sludge. To effectively monitor water quality, this study presents a synergistic approach coupling new and traditional analytical methods and demonstrates the importance of identifying critical points for managing accumulation of cyanobacteria within plants.

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