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Sbir Phase I: Microbial Source Tracking Using Mitochondrial Dna For Identification Of Contaminant Sources

Investigators
Baldwin, Brett
Institutions
Microbial Insights Inc
Start date
2009
End date
2009
Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will result in a suite of microbial source tracking assays to provide cost-effective identification of fecal contamination sources in surface waters. Beach closures and advisories exceeded 20,000 days in each of the past 3 years with more than 60% caused by fecal pollution. Overall, 13% of surface waters do not meet quality standards due to fecal contamination. The problem continues more than 30 years after the Clean Water Act because traditional methods cannot identify fecal inputs from the myriad of human (wastewater treatment plants, septic fields), agricultural (confined animal feeding operations), and natural wildlife activities. Microbial source tracking (MST) using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) offers a rapid but sensitive approach to quantify fecal inputs and most importantly identify the source. The primary milestone of the project will be rigorously validated qPCR assays that provide conclusive identification of fecal contamination sources allowing end users to eliminate fecal inputs and protect human health. The broader impact of this research is the development and validation of an mtDNA based qPCR method to identify fecal contamination sources which will ultimately lead to improved water quality. Fecal contamination of water resources currently results in beach closures and restrictions on shellfish harvesting that severely impact waterfront communities. Moreover, periodic outbreaks of waterborne diseases clearly highlight the need for improved detection of fecal contamination indicators to protect human health. This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project number
910417
Categories
Chemical Contaminants
Sanitation and Quality Standards