Development Of Microcystin Detoxifying Water Biofilters

Helpful bacteria clear algal toxins out of drinking water

Principal Investigator

Jason Huntley, University of Toledo


Researchers at the University of Toledo are putting toxin-eating bacteria to work purifying water.

When lakes or reservoirs develop harmful algal blooms, communities have to think twice about what’s coming out of the tap. Normally, water treatment plants ensure safe drinking water by putting the incoming water through a series of standard cleansing steps. But with the increasing frequency of harmful algal blooms, water treatment experts are seeking effective and affordable techniques to remove algal toxins from water.

A team of researchers from the University of Toledo has developed a new low-cost treatment method that harnesses bacteria that naturally feed on the toxin microcystin. Led by Jason Huntley, an assistant professor of medical microbiology and immunology, the team is growing the helpful bacteria on the filters that water must pass through during purification. They are currently testing the combination of filter material, bacteria type and water conditions that remove microcystin fastest from water. The next step will be to build a pilot processing system and test the technique on larger scales.

The End Result

A new technique in the toolbox of water treatment plants that face harmful algal blooms in their source waters.

Full Project Information

Read about the project at the Ohio Sea Grant website.