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!
Robotic fish to replace animal testing
17.06.2019 | Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg
Marine oil snow
12.06.2019 | University of Delaware
The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.
Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.
The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
19.06.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.06.2019 | Information Technology
19.06.2019 | Materials Sciences