State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007KY92B
Title: The link between metal tolerance and antibiotic resistance in fecal coliforms in the Ohio River basin
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/29/2008
Congressional District: KY 4th
Focus Categories: Hydrogeochemistry, Water Quality, Surface Water
Keywords: biogeochemistry, bacterial populations, source indicators
Principal Investigator: Evans, Rebecca (Northern Kentucky University)
Federal Funds: $ 5,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 12,428
Abstract: The antibiotic resistant profile of disease causing fecal coliforms is often used as an indicator of source of fecal contamination in surface waters. In the Ohio River and its major tributaries, however, antibiotic resistant coliforms were not obviously associated with either human sewage or domestic livestock. Some research suggests that trace metal exposure from sources such as industrial effluents can influence antibiotic resistance and make identifying the source of fecal contamination difficult. Industrial effluents are released to the Ohio River from major cities such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Louisville. Analyzing trace metal concentrations in Ohio River samples collected in conjunction with fecal coliform sampling will be an asset in locating prominent sources of fecal contamination. There are three main objectives to this study. First, to compare trace metal concentrations with the distribution of antibiotic resistant fecal coliforms. Second, to determine, through statistical analysis, what the relationship is between trace metal concentrations and antibiotic resistant fecal coliforms in Ohio River water. Third, to use the relationship between trace metals and antibiotic resistance to determine source(s) of fecal coliform contamination.

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