A Comparative Study of Three Bacterial Source Tracking Methods and the Fate of Fecal Indicator Bacteria in Marine Waters and Sediments
Irvin, Renee Danielle
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E. coli and Enterococcus were used to determine the fate and survival of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) in sand and sediments. The microbial source tracking (MST) methods antibiotic resistance analysis (ARA), Bacteroides human-specific primer test, and fluorometry were compared against the FIBs to determine how reliable each method was in detecting the presence of human fecal contamination. Two phases (Summer 2009 and 2010) were evaluated based on the type of contamination event. A combined sewage overflow (CSO) event was simulated in Phase I, where large amounts of influent were added to sand and bay water columns over 1 to 4 days. In 2010, a low volume sewage leak was simulated in which smaller doses of influent were added to sand and bay water columns over a period of 5 to 15 days. Within each of the phases, both non- and re-circulated columns were also evaluated. Evaluation of FIB survival indicated that Enterococcus was able to stabilize and re-grow in the water and at the sediment/water interface within the Phase I non-circulated columns. E. coli was unable to re-grow and/or stabilize within any environment. Comparisons between the ARA and the FIBs revealed a large majority of isolates identified as coming from either bird or wildlife sources. Human sources were identified but at much lower concentrations than expected. Bacteroides results indicated strong relationships between the increase of FIB concentrations and the presence of the human-specific Bacteroides. Fluorometry results did not indicate any relationship with the FIBs. Unexpectedly, fluorometry readings increased as time progressed indicating that another compound was present that fluoresced at the same wavelength as optical brighteners (OBs). This project was one of the first to study the differences related to two different pollution events (CSO vs. sewage leak) while also evaluating what happens to pollution as it settles into the sediment. It was also unique because it compared bacterial (ARA), molecular (Bacteroides), and chemical (fluorometry) MST methods.
- Masters Theses