State Water Resources Research Institute Program


Project Id: 2010DC118B
Title: The Application of Multiple-Antibiotic-Resistance (MAR) Profiles of Coliforms to Detect Sources of Bacterial Contamination of the Anacostia River
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2010
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: DC
Focus Categories: Wastewater, Water Quality, Education
Keywords: Anacostia River, Coliform Contamination, Antibiotic Resistance, MAR Analysis, Point and Non-Point Sources, Sewage Overflow
Principal Investigator: Morris, David
Federal Funds: $ 7,800
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 4,017
Abstract: The Anacostia River is regularly inundated by sewage overflow and run-off pollution that contributes to the overall degradation of the river as well as posing a potential public health risk. Fecal pollution can be detected routinely using standard tests recommended by the American Public Health Authority (APHA) but recent studies have shown that multiple resistant coliforms in water samples is a more reliable indicator of pollution by human and animal sources. The prevalence of antibiotic resistance among coliforms is due to sewage contamination, the widespread commercial use of antibiotics, and the propensity for R-plasmid exchange in the gastro-intestinal systems of humans and animals and in stagnant bodies of wastewater. This proposal seeks to apply similar studies to point and non-point sources (PS and NPS) along the Anacostia River. The prevalence of antibiotic resistance among coliform isolates from all three sites is most likely the result of sewage contamination, the widespread commercial use of antibiotics, and the propensity for R-plasmid exchange in the gastro-intestinal systems of humans and animals and in stagnant bodies of wastewater. We argue that using MAR profiles of selected sites on the Anacostia (both PS and NPS) is a valuable tool for identifying and monitoring the sources of fecal contamination, and that this method may be useful in facilitating the management of not only the Anacostia, but also other local estuaries. The procedures described in the proposal are ideally suited for undergraduate student training and preliminary results have been obtained by students in the department's special honors program. Further student involvement will be encouraged by this project which will have the further benefit of focusing our students' attention on the microbiological ecology of our national capital waterways.

Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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