Detection of Viable Pathogens in Marine Water

EPA Grant Number: FP916982
Title: Detection of Viable Pathogens in Marine Water
Investigators: Lefthand-Begay, Clarita Marie
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 5, 2008 through April 25, 2010
Project Amount: $37,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


According to the EPA, approximately 40% of surface and marine waters in the U.S. are severely contaminated, thus greatly restricting their use (e.g., swimming, shellfish harvesting and fishing). Tainted recreational waters create additional limitations to communities who subsist on fish and shellfish to maintain significant connections to their culture such as Native American tribes. Microbial Source Tracking Methods (MST) can be used to help determine the source of fecal contamination; however, numerous gaps remain in current MST methods; consequently, research in this area is strongly needed in order to minimize and eliminate these gaps. Our research aims to develop a bacterial detection method by targeting pre-rRNA genes from a panel of laboratory strains.

To develop a detection method that is capable of differentiating between viable or non-viable pathogens in marine water.


Targeting microbial pre-RNA genes using RT-PCR for the detection of viable pathogens present in marine water.

Expected Results:

The results from this study will provide much needed tools that will allow water quality specialist and researchers to determine risk of enteric illnesses and help evaluate recent fecal contamination in marine water bodies. This will contribute to work in the field of Microbial Source Tracking, and public health studies.

Supplemental Keywords:

Pathogen detection, Microbial Source tracking, fecal contamination, pre-rRNA,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2009
  • Final