Two MSI PIs in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering have been studying the water systems in University of Minnesota Twin Cities buildings to determine if they harbor deadly strains of Legionella. When the campus closed to nearly all the UMN community in mid-March, Professors Raymond Hozalski and Timothy LaPara took the opportunity to study whether the buildings’ water systems would become breeding areas for Legionella bacteria. The Legionella pneumophila strain causes Legionnaire’s disease, which has a 10% mortality rate. Professors Hozalski and LaPara found that, while some strains of Legionella were able to breed in the unused pipes, Legionella pneumophila was not present. A story about this research was broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio and can be found on their website: Study: No Deadly Legionella Strain in Closed U of M Buildings’ Water.
Professor Hozalski uses DNA-sequencing tools available through MSI to characterize microbial communities in manmade water systems. Professor LaPara uses MSI to support analyses of the microbiomes of drinking water and wastewater/sewerage.