Current WRP Projects: Project 56

Understanding the Contribution of Different Microbial Sources to Surface Water for Informed Management of Waterborne Pathogens in Wyoming

  • Project Number:  56
  • PIs: Sarah Collins, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Zoology and Physiology, UW and Bledar Bisha, Assistant Professor, Dept.of Animal Science, UW.
  • Period: July 2019 – June 2022. Report Extension.



We propose to apply state-of-the art advanced molecular biology approaches to evaluate a suite of questions related to the sources, persistence, and transport of waterborne pathogens in Wyoming rivers. This work will provide evidence to guide management for the high number of streams that have been listed as impaired based on high E. coli levels in statewide water quality surveys. In particular, we will use a combination of culture-based methods and next-generation DNA sequencing to illuminate the sources of fecal contamination in streams. Microbial source tracking can help to determine whether bacteria originate from natural or anthropogenic sources, providing key information for management action to eliminate pathogen sources to streams. The proposed research will evaluate both traditional indicator species and full bacterial communities to determine whether the use of indicator species is an effective means to assess contamination from high risk sources. Finally, by conducting analyses of stream sediment as well as stream water, this work will also provide evidence on whether sediment serves as a persistent source of indicator bacteria in streams where management practices in watersheds have attempted to reduce inputs from point and non-point sources. To our knowledge, the proposed research will be the first study to apply modern next-generation sequencing technology to address water resource management problems related to fecal pollution in Wyoming rivers.



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