Great Lakes' viral invaders

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. READ MORE >>

Now that we have the technology to detect a wide range of viruses, we can determine the potential risks of transporting a virome in ballast water.
— Joan Rose
The freighter Hon. James L. Oberstar passes through the Sault St. Marie Locks in Michigan on Tuesday July 7, 2015. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

The freighter Hon. James L. Oberstar passes through the Sault St. Marie Locks in Michigan on Tuesday July 7, 2015. Photo by G.L. Kohuth


Septic tanks aren’t keeping human sewage out of rivers and lakes

The notion that septic tanks prevent fecal bacteria from seeping into rivers and lakes simply doesn’t hold water, says a new Michigan State University study.

Water expert Joan Rose and her team of water detectives have discovered freshwater contamination stemming from septic systems. Appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is the largest watershed study of its kind to date, and provides a basis for evaluating water quality and health implications and the impact of septic systems on watersheds. 

Joan B. Rose, Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research, Michigan State University.

Joan B. Rose, Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research, Michigan State University.


Joan Featured in GOOD Magazine: The World’s First Global Poop Map Could Help Save Lives

(Click to expand) The map created by Rose and her team indicates areas with higher concentrations (red)of Rotavirus and lower concentrations (purple) of the virus globally.

As the picture book says, “everybody poops.”  

While that’s certainly a wonderful sentiment to embrace, it’s one that actually has some serious—and seriously dangerous—implications as far as global health is concerned. As terrific as pooping can be when it comes to keeping the human body running smoothly, our fecal byproducts are home to some truly nasty viruses that are annually responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide, especially in developing countries which lack the sanitation systems many of us enjoy at home. 

Read the full story at GOOD Magazine >>


Joan in Quartz: One of climate change’s biggest dangers is one the world still isn’t talking about

Changes in climate and weather patterns worldwide are converging with social trends, shifting populations, land use change, and increasingly impaired water infrastructure to dramatically make life worse for those across the globe. We now have evidence that climate is a major factor increasing risks for food and waterborne diseases. While the linkages are complex, both temperature and precipitation are directly and indirectly associated with illnesses.