Lauren Brooks

Lauren Brooks

There is a great need for a method which can identify the sources of bacterial contamination

2010 Urban Fellow

Research Topic: Water Quality and Hydrology

Faculty Advisor: Gaboury Benoit

Validation of genetic markers and application to detect fecal contamination at beaches in New Haven County, Connecticut

Due to shortcomings in traditional methods for detecting and quantifying the presence of fecal waste in waters new methodologies are being explored, with special attention being given to the ability to identify sources of the contamination. In this study, an alternative methodology, which uses Real-­‐Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-­‐PCR) to detect host specific genetic markers to distinguish between human and non-­‐human sources of contamination, was applied to beaches in Connecticut that were experiencing various levels of contamination. Despite some difficulties with this new approach, it was ultimately useful for identifying waste of human origin. Though not quantitative, this study qualitatively provided important baseline information for further studies by indicating beaches to target for more in-­‐ depth tracking procedures to detect and correct these human sources impacting the contaminated waters.