New Techology Uses Bacteria to Clean Water so Wild Rice can Thrive

Wild rice in field
Thursday, June 25, 2015

Despite its cultural, environmental and economic signficance to Minnesota, wild rice has been threatened by high levels of sulfate resulting from agricultural and industrial sources. A team of researchers led by Michael Sadowsky, director of Consortium member The Biotechnology Institute, is developing a solution using bacteria drawn from the ecosystem and (eventually) powered by renewable energy. Sadowsky explains, “This system takes advantage of naturally occurring processes to effectively remove sulfates from the state’s water. . . . [It] will allow us to expand water treatment in hard-to-reach areas of the state where much of the wild rice is produced.” The project is part of the state-funded MnDRIVE Transdisciplinary Research Program, where researchers from different departments work beyond the limits of their disciplines to address complex challenges.