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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Targeted Sampling Protocol as Prelude to Bacterial Source Tracking with Enterococcus faecalis


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 6, p. 2311-2318
    Received: Nov 6, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): pghartel@uga.edu
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  1. Robin L. Kuntza,
  2. Peter G. Hartel *a,
  3. Dominique G. Godfreya,
  4. Jennifer L. McDonaldb,
  5. Keith W. Gatesb and
  6. William I. Segarsa
  1. a Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, 3111 Plant Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7272
    b Marine Advisory and Technological Transfer Center, 715 Bay Street, Brunswick, GA 31520-4601


Recent studies suggest that host origin databases for bacterial source tracking (BST) must contain a large number of isolates because bacterial subspecies change with geography and time. A new targeted sampling protocol was developed as a prelude to BST to minimize these changes. The research was conducted on the Sapelo River, a tidal river on the Georgia coast. A general sampling of the river showed fecal enterococcal numbers ranging from <10 (below the limit of detection) to 990 colony-forming units (CFU) per 100 mL. Locations with high enterococcal numbers were combined with local knowledge to determine targeted sampling sites. Fecal enterococcal numbers around one site ranged from <10 to 24000 CFU per 100 mL. Bacterial source tracking was conducted to determine if a wastewater treatment facility at the site was responsible for this contamination. The fecal indicator bacterium was Enterococcus faecalis Ribotyping, automated with a RiboPrinter (DuPont Qualicon, Wilmington, DE), was the BST method. Thirty-seven ribotypes were observed among 83 Ent. faecalis isolates obtained from the Sapelo River and the wastewater lagoon. Sixteen ribotypes were associated with either the river or the lagoon, and only five ribotypes (14%) were shared. Nevertheless, these five ribotypes represented 39 of the 83 Ent. faecalis isolates, almost a majority (47%). These results suggest that the fecal contamination in the river came from the wastewater treatment facility. As a prelude to BST, targeted sampling minimized subspecies changes with geography and time, and eliminated the need for a permanent host origin database by restricting BST to a small geographic area and requiring sampling to be completed in one day.

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