State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008TX308B
Title: Development of Library-Independent Bacterial Source Tracking Markers for Species-Specific Discrimination of Deer and Cattle Fecal Contamination in Surface Waters
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: 15, 17
Focus Categories: Methods, Water Quality, Agriculture
Keywords: Bacterial Source Tracking, Bacteroides, Molecular Marker, Deer
Principal Investigators: Martin, Emily ; Gentry, Terry
Federal Funds: $ 5,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 19,000
Abstract: Bacterial contamination is a significant cause of impairment and 303(d) listings of waterways in Texas. Efforts to track the source of fecal contamination have traditionally been conducted using labor-intensive library-dependent fingerprinting methods, for which geographical and temporal trends have yet to be determined. Library-independent methods utilizing indicator groups other than E.coli have been identified which do not require cultivation and are more cost and labor effective. Gut communities of anaerobic bacteria including Bacteroides have been shown to be host specific, and thus, amendable to the creation molecular markers specific to groups of warm-blooded animals. Markers specific to humans, dogs, swine and ruminants have been developed, but show the need for further validation. A lack of specific marker sets for relevant fecal contaminators limits their use today. The ruminant marker cannot distinguish between cattle and deer, but differentiating the two groups is especially important in Texas, as TMDL and best management practices are developed. To this end, the objective of this research is to develop molecular markers specific to a major wildlife faction in Texas, deer. These efforts will greatly enhance our ability to delineate three potentially key fecal contamination sources in Texas: cattle, humans, and wildlife.

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