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EPA grants help Wayne State researchers stave off Great Lakes environmental invaders
Date:9/12/2011

the Great Lakes, others can survive ocean ballast. Some microorganisms also can resist other extreme conditions.

Ram and his team are collaborating with Canadian government officials and recently conducted a test aboard the freighter Indiana Harbor. The ship's ballast water was tested in Gary, Ind., where it unloaded taconite, and again in Superior, Wis., its next stop. Researchers collaborated with U.S. National Park Service officials on the tests, which range from bench top to boat ballast, and are planning similar tests on other ships.

Experiments with collected samples are in progress and working well, Ram said. Data is being analyzed, with a focus on bacteria, and during the next year the team will work on phytoplankton and zooplankton (microscopic plants and animals). Verifying effectiveness of ballast water treatment systems, he said, will assist in virtually eliminating future introductions of invasive species to the Great Lakes by such water.

Using a combination of methods, samples will be given simple on-board marking and preservation treatments. Preserved samples, which will contain markers currently being tested to determine whether organisms are alive or dead, then will be sent off ship to be analyzed at a central processing laboratory.

If successful, the methods could be used in a regular monitoring system and also may give early warning of possible new invasive species risks.

Western Lake Erie and the Maumee River, the location of Toledo's port where many "laker" ships discharge ballast water, are areas characterized by the EPA as high risk because of their hospitable environments for many invasive species. In addition, the low flood plain between the upper reaches of the Maumee River and the Wabash River makes the Maumee a potential entry point for Asian carp and other invasive species from the Mississippi River watershed. That's why Ram and his team are working near the mouth of the Maumee River to develo
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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