Event Title

Examining the Diversity and Origin of Bacteria on South Carolina Oceanic Beaches

Poster Number

39

Faculty Mentor

Victoria Frost, Ph.D., and Matthew Heard, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Biology

Location

Richardson Ballroom

Start Date

21-4-2017 2:15 PM

Description

Oceanic beaches are dynamic ecosystems that are home to many different types of microbial species. While most of these bacterial species are not pathogenic to humans, there are some that are of public health concern. As such, these environments are monitored for microbes that may cause disease and illness. The one problem with this approach is that it is difficult to identify and track all species. Therefore, monitoring agencies usually focus on either common pathogens or bacteria that are associated with fecal pollution (Fecal Indicator Bacteria; FIBs). In this study, we assessed bacteria levels for one common pathogen (Staphylococcus aureus) as well as two common FIBs (Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp.) on three oceanic beaches in South Carolina. These beaches were selected for study because recent research in this area has shown that FIBs may be more commonly found in beach sand than previously thought. In addition, and to help better understand where these bacteria are coming from on these beaches, we also used the molecular technique of phylo-grouping to identify potential sources of Escherichia coli. Using this approach, we determined that all three microbial taxa we looked for were present at all study sites, but that there was no significant difference for their distribution patterns. Additionally, we found that likely sources of Escherichia coli included humans, wild animals, and domesticated animals. Collectively, these findings indicate that pathogens and FIBs may commonly persist on oceanic beaches, but more work is needed to determine if this is of public health concern.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Symposium, Winthrop University, July 2016

Grant Support?

Supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (NIH-INBRE)

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Apr 21st, 2:15 PM

Examining the Diversity and Origin of Bacteria on South Carolina Oceanic Beaches

Richardson Ballroom

Oceanic beaches are dynamic ecosystems that are home to many different types of microbial species. While most of these bacterial species are not pathogenic to humans, there are some that are of public health concern. As such, these environments are monitored for microbes that may cause disease and illness. The one problem with this approach is that it is difficult to identify and track all species. Therefore, monitoring agencies usually focus on either common pathogens or bacteria that are associated with fecal pollution (Fecal Indicator Bacteria; FIBs). In this study, we assessed bacteria levels for one common pathogen (Staphylococcus aureus) as well as two common FIBs (Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp.) on three oceanic beaches in South Carolina. These beaches were selected for study because recent research in this area has shown that FIBs may be more commonly found in beach sand than previously thought. In addition, and to help better understand where these bacteria are coming from on these beaches, we also used the molecular technique of phylo-grouping to identify potential sources of Escherichia coli. Using this approach, we determined that all three microbial taxa we looked for were present at all study sites, but that there was no significant difference for their distribution patterns. Additionally, we found that likely sources of Escherichia coli included humans, wild animals, and domesticated animals. Collectively, these findings indicate that pathogens and FIBs may commonly persist on oceanic beaches, but more work is needed to determine if this is of public health concern.