Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011MN291B

Persistence of the Fecal Indicator Bacteroides in Sand and Sediment

Institute: Minnesota
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-07-01 End Date: 2012-06-30
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $40,400

Principal Investigators: Michael Sadowsky, Randall Hicks

Abstract: The objectives of this proposal are to measure the spatial distribution of human-specific Bacteroides and its persistence and growth in sand and sediment. Bacteroides is a commensal gut bacterium that is increasingly being used for determination of fecal contamination in recreational waters. Research has consistently shown that conventional fecal indicator organisms, such as Escherichia coli, do not accurately reflect fecal contamination due to their extended persistence and growth within soil and water environments. Bacteroides exhibits the traits of an ideal indicator of fecal pollution; however, the factors affecting the distribution and persistence of Bacteroides within sand and sediment have not yet been thoroughly studied. The specific objectives of this proposal are 1) to determine the seasonal distribution of Bacteroides in sand and sediment on a beach with continuous sewage effluent inputs; 2) examine the effects of temperature and moisture on Bacteroides persistence in sand and sediment; and 3) to assess the growth of degree of Bacteroides in sediment and its persistence relative to key bacterial pathogens and indicator organisms (E. coli and Enterococcus). Experimental microcosms combined with molecular methods, such as quantitative PCR (qPCR) targeting the 16S rRNA gene, will be used to address each objective. The broad goal of this research is to assess the validity of Bacteroides as a fecal indicator bacterium in Minnesota waterways.