Project Background: According to the 2012 Texas Integrated Report, there 272 impairments due to excessive bacteria. One key to effectively abating these impairments is the identification and assessment of fecal pollution sources. Proper evaluation of these sources is needed to target best management practices and develop bacterial total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) or watershed protection plans (WPPs). This information may also be useful to properly assess risk in contact recreation, as many waterborne pathogens causing human illness do not colonize nonhuman hosts.
Use of genetic and biochemical tests which allow identification of the original host species is referred to as bacterial source tracking (BST). The premise behind BST is that genetic and phenotypic tests can identify bacterial strains that are host specific so that the original host species and source of the fecal contamination can be identified. While there has been some controversy concerning host specificity and survival of E. coli in the environment (Gordon, Bauer et al. 2002), this indicator organism has the advantage of being correlated with the presence of fecal contamination and being used for human health risk assessments. Thus, BST of E. coli has direct regulatory significance and standardized culturing techniques for water samples available, such as EPA Method 1603 (USEPA 2005).
Project Goals/Description: Support BST analyses across the State through maintenance of analytical infrastructure at public BST laboratories; further evaluation of the Texas E. coli BST Library, naturalized E. coli, and cosmopolitan or transient E. coli strains; and further development of suitable source-specific bacterial markers for library independent BST; targeted BST analysis; and delivery of informational materials on the use and applicability of BST and the State-supported analytical labs.
Project Location: Statewide
Project Costs: State Funding ($215,842)
Project Participants: Texas Water Resources Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health El Paso Regional Campus, Texas A&M AgriLife Research- Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources
Project Workplan: 15-52
Project QAPP: 15-52
Final Report: Texas BST Program Refinement, Expansion and Use- FY2015
Past Projects: 13-50