Scientists are using one of New Zealand's most toxic lakes as a natural laboratory to study a bacteria threatening water supplies globally. Cyanobacteria are a type of photosynthetic microbe which live everywhere from scalding geothermal springs to ice-covered Antarctic lakes. Unfortunately, some of them are also toxic - and the bacteria at Lake Rotorua in the South Island pump out so much toxin the water can reach 200 times the level that is considered safe for drinking.
Radio New Zealand science reporter William Ray visited a team of scientists at the lake who are trying to discover why the bacteria there produce so much toxin. He spoke with Jonathan Puddick and Susie Wood, both at the Cawthron Institute, and David Hamilton who holds the Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration at the University of Waikato. You can read his news report and see photos on his research.
For more information you can listen to a previous Our Changing World interview about cyanobacteria with David Hamilton; a story about the hydrogen-producing capability of cyanobacteria with Tina Summerfield from the University of Otago; and a story about a Victoria University trial using a UAV to monitor toxic algae from the air in the Hutt River.