Previously unknown toxin with bioweapon possibilities found in Australian river

A previously unknown toxin with the potential to be used for bioterror has been found deep in Australia's Fitzroy River. The toxin, which has no smell, can only be seen under a microscope and is known to be poisonous to mammals.

The toxin has never been identified anywhere in the world except the Fitzroy River, where it lies several feet under the surface. The toxin was discovered in water that appeared to be clear to the naked eye.

The bacteria is being further researched to assess its threat to drinking water supplies.

The bacteria originates in a blue-green alga that is unique to the Fitzroy River, scientists at CQUniversity have discovered. Gentic testing done on the bacteria showed that the alga was washed into the Fitzroy by flooding.

Additional work is being done to isolate the toxin and determine its chemical structure. Once that is completed, its potential impact on humans can be studied. The researcch is being done by CQUniversity in association with the Australian Water Quality Centre and is financed by the Australian Coal Association Research Program.

The scientists will continue to monitor the Fitzroy River while studying the new toxin and noted that a recently upgraded water treatment facility should protect the drinking water of nearby citizens.