Great Lakes’ viral invaders

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Joan Rose (view larger image)

Viral invasions would make for a good plot in the next Spielberg blockbuster, but according to Michigan State University water researchers, it’s not a Hollywood fantasy. In fact, millions of tiny, dangerous microbes have been attacking native species in the Great Lakes for decades.

These pathogens are hitching rides in ballast water – the water in the hulls of large ships that help stabilize them when on the move – which is then released into new environments when the ships dock at their destinations, according to Joan Rose, Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research at MSU.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study produced the most-detailed list of viruses in ballast water to date, and aims to provide engineers, environmental scientists and policy makers with vital information on how ships spread viruses. In addition, it will help support evaluation of ballast water quality to protect public health from invasive viral pathogens.

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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