Cyanobacteria blooms cannot be controlled by effective microorganisms (EM) from mud- or Bokashi-balls

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In controlled experiments, the ability of ‘‘Effective Microorganisms (EM, in the form of mudballs or Bokashi-balls)’’ was tested for clearing waters from cyanobacteria. We found suspensions of EM-mudballs up to 1 g l-1 to be ineffective in reducing cyanobacterial growth. In all controls and EM-mudball treatments up to 1 g l-1 the cyanobacterial chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentrations increased within 4 weeks from&120 to 325–435 lg l-1. When pieces of EM-mudballs (42.5 g) were added to 25-l lake water with cyanobacteria, no decrease of cyanobacteria as compared to untreated controls was observed. In contrast, after 4 weeks cyanobacterial Chl-a concentrations were significantly higher in EM-mudball treatments (52 lg l-1) than in controls (20 lg l-1). Only when suspensions with extremely high EM-mudball concentrations were applied (i.e., 5 and 10 g l-1), exceeding the recommended concentrations by orders of magnitude, cyanobacterial growth was inhibited and a bloom forming concentration was reduced strongly. In these high dosing treatments, the oxygen concentration dropped initially to very low levels of 1.8 g l-1. This was most probably through forcing strong light limitation on the cyanobacteria caused by the high amount of clay and subsequent high turbidity of the water. Hence, this study yields no support for the hypothesis that EM is effective in preventing cyanobacterial proliferation or in terminating blooms. We consider EM products to be ineffective because they neither permanently bind nor remove phosphorus from eutroficated systems, they have no inhibiting effect on cyanobacteria, and they could even be an extra source of nutrients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-143
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • fresh-water
  • phosphorus uptake
  • phytoplankton
  • nutrient
  • bacteria
  • bacterioplankton
  • nuisance
  • cultures
  • toxins
  • algae


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