WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL
Project ID: 2005PA41B
Title: Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles of Escherichia coli and enterococci for predicting sources of microbial pollution
Project Type: Research
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Surface Water, Non Point Pollution
Keywords: microbial contamination, fecal pollution, indicator organisms, Escherichia coli, enterococci, fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiling
Start Date: 03/01/2005
End Date: 02/28/2006
Federal Funds: $17,560
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $39,525
Congressional District: 7th
The overall objective of this study is to investigate the host-specific differences in fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles of Escherichia coli and enterococci for the purpose of predicting sources of microbial pollution in water environments. Effective methods for microbial source tracking (MST) are needed to ensure timely and precise response to protect human and environmental health and to develop more accurate Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) programs to maintain long-term water quality.
Microbial contamination is one of the major water quality issues. Pathogens
associated with fecal pollution affect many water environments in the US
and around the world. The Year 2000 National Water Quality Inventory lists
microbial contamination as the leading cause of water quality impairment
in rivers and streams in the US (USEPA, 2000). In fact, pathogens are the
second leading cause of water quality impairment nationwide (EPA Section
303d List). There are over 1500 water environments on TMDL programs due to
the presence of pathogens. Microbial pollution can lead to human diseases
and economic losses in industries that depend on coastal water quality, such
as shell fisheries.
The proposed study will develop a database of approximately 1,500 isolates of E. coli and enterococci from possible sources of microbial contamination including human, livestock, and wildlife. Then E. coli and enterococci isolates cultured from water environments affected by microbial contamination will be compared to the known-host library for predicting their host origins.
It is expected that this new technology will provide a reliable, economical, and effective means of sources identification for microbial pollution and thus contribute significantly to source water protection efforts. This new technology will enable all water resources organizations even the ones with limited budget, such as small grass-root organizations and township officials, to monitor presence and sources of pathogens routinely. In addition, the project will provide training opportunity for students and water quality professionals.