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Norovirus persistence in surface water

Investigators
Boehm, Alexandria
Institutions
Stanford University
Start date
2018
End date
2021
Objective
Human norovirus causes severe gastrointestinal illness. Even though it is commonly found in water, there has been little work to examine the survivability of the virus in surface waters like lakes, rivers, and oceans. In this project, researchers will investigate how long human norovirus survives in surface waters. The generated knowledge will inform the management of surface waters and the design of wastewater and water treatment processes. The project addresses a high priority research need to protect human health. The educational activities will benefit learners from preschoolers to tenured researchers.

Human norovirus (hNoV) is the leading global cause of gastroenteritis and is the most important etiology of recreational waterborne illness. The objective of this project is to fill the critical knowledge gap in hNoV persistence in surface water. This research consists of coordinated laboratory, mesocosm, and modeling studies. The goal is to develop a generalizable predictive model for hNoV inactivation under a wide range of conditions relevant to surface waters. hNoV cannot be readily cultured, so hNoV inactivation will be approximated using molecular methods that aim to differentiate infectious from non-infectious hNoV and investigate the mechanism of hNoV inactivation (capsid damage and genome lesions). The work will yield novel advances in the understanding of hNoV persistence in water, and it will have immediate implications for the management of surface waters for the protection of human health. This research will also advance the field of applied microbiology and virology by providing new insights into mechanisms of hNoV inactivation that may be applied to other viruses. Outreach to the beach manager community in California and nationally at EPA?s Office of Science & Technology will take place through presentations at working group meetings. Information provided to these two groups by the research team can inform national water quality standards for viruses. The project team will develop new curricula on microorganisms for preschool children and will also integrate the results into classroom instruction. A graduate student will pursue PhD research and undergraduate students will gain research experience during the course of this project. The project team will work with the diversity program Stanford University to identify underrepresented students to participate in the proposed work. In order to promote this research, the team will participate in a local science festival.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project source
View this project
Project number
1804169
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Sanitation and Quality Standards
Education and Training