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Mitigating cyanobacterial blooms: how effective are ‘effective microorganisms’?

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This study examined the effects of ‘Effective Microorganisms (EM)’ on the growth of cyanobacteria, and their ability to terminate cyanobacterial blooms. The EM was tested in the form of ‘mudballs’ or ‘Bokashi-balls’, and as a suspension (EM-A) in laboratory experiments. No growth inhibition was observed for a laboratory strain of Microcystis aeruginosa and for M. aeruginosa from the field at the recommended dosage of 1 EM-mudball per square-metre (≈0.1–0.3 g L−1). Cyanobacteria were inhibited only at very high concentrations (5–10 g L−1 cyanobacteria), and a bloom was reduced, being attributed to the high amount of clay and high water turbidity. For these high dosage treatments, the dissolved oxygen concentration dropped initially to very low levels, with longer incubation indicating that nutrients were released from the material. The EM-A suspension appeared ineffective in hampering cyanobacterial growths at recommended usage concentrations. EM-mudballs released phosphate (160 μg P g−1) and metals (aluminium, copper, traces of lead and lanthanum). The results of this study did not support the hypothesis that EM are effective in preventing cyanobacterial proliferation or in terminating blooms, thereby suggesting lake restoration by ‘Effective Microorganisms’ is not a convincing eutrophication control option.
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Keywords: EM; Microcystis aeruginosa; blooms; cyanobacteria; eutrophication; lake restoration

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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