Mercyhurst biologist Dr. Steven Mauro, who has been instrumental in local beach water research the past five years, said the system is being piloted at Presque Isle this summer and represents a collaboration of Mercyhurst, Penn State Behrend, the Regional Science Consortium and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Testing for E. coli bacteria is the standard for assessing recreational water quality. However, the conventional method of microbial plating to enumerate colonies of fecal indicator bacteria typically takes 24 hours or more to achieve a reliable reading.
The procedure uses a combination of computer predictions and quantitative PCR (qPCR) to isolate and identify bacterial DNA and gets the job done in two hours, limiting the amount of time during which swimmers are exposed to water that is potentially hazardous.
Not only might this emerging technology be of benefit to evaluating Erie’s beach water but, if proven to deliver consistently accurate results, could well be used by recreational water managers across the country, Mauro said.
Here’s how it works. Penn State Behrend statistician Dr. Michael Rutter developed a computer program that measures real-time conditions, including wind direction and speed, water temperature and wave height among other factors and predicts when conditions are ripe for E. coli contamination. Mauro monitors the program’s assessments and, if contamination is suspected, takes samples from local beach waters and processes them back at his Mercyhurst lab using state-of-the-art DNA technology. If the qPCR confirms E. coli contamination, Mauro reports his findings to Presque Isle State Park officials who can then make informed decisions on posting advisories.
“I can go to the peninsula first thing in the morning and have results by 10 or 11 a.m. the same day,” Mauro said.
In any beach-going season, he added, the collective qPCR results are expected to be 90 percent accurate. However, as this particular pilot project begins, Mauro said both the conventional and new methodology will be used to ensure the most accurate determinations of beach water safety. Testing will be completed by Mauro with support from trained Mercyhurst science students and interns from the Regional Science Consortium.
Meanwhile, Mauro and his students recently published their research on the new qPCR methodology in the Journal of Environmental Management. Co-authors included recent Mercyhurst graduates Surafel Mulugeta, Ryan Hindman, Adam M. Olszewski, Kaitlyn Hoover, Kendall Greene and Matthew Lieberman.
In recent years, Mauro’s beach water research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, Coastal Zone Management and the state Department of Environmental Protection with support from Pennsylvania Sea Grant and the Erie County Department of Health.
Debbie Morton | EurekAlert!
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy