The Water Quality, Environmental, and Molecular Microbiology Laboratory

Michigan State University

 

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Current Projects

(listed by funding source)

City of Toledo

  • City of Toledo Bayview Water Reclaimation Plant Pathogen Study

Halosource, Inc.

  • Assessing inactivation of pathogens by a halogen delivery device (HaloPure(R))

National Science Foundation

  • Studying the historical record of pollution using molecular tools and Great Lakes Cores.

National Science Foundation / PIRE

  • Development of new molecular tools for detecting human pathogenic viruses to study ballast water quality

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

  • Advancing next generation genomic tools for discovery of the food microbiome from the field to the store
 

 

 

Title: City of Toledo Bayview Water Reclaimation Plant Pathogen Study

Funding Organization: City of Toledo

Project Duration: 2011-2021

Description: During storm events in areas with combined sewers, the volume of water entering the sewage treatment systems may exceed the volumetric capacity of the system.  Excess volume is then discharged either partially treated or untreated to surface waters.  The City of Toledo Bayview Water Reclaimation Plant has expanded its treatment process to include a high rate clarification (ballasted flocculation) treatment technology to address this issue.  In the past, the performance of most systems has been evaluated by examining reduction of fecal indicator organisms, such as total coliforms, fecal coliforms, or Escherichia coli.   However, most fecal indicator organisms are bacterial and may not best represent the reduction of viral and protozoan parasites.   This study is designed to improve understanding of the effectiveness of the high rate clarification treatment in regard to pathogenic organisms.  In this study, both the high rate clarification and conventional wastewater treatment process trains are sampled and examined for the presence of selected pathogens to evaluate pathogen removal.  Methods for pathogen detection were selected to evaluate viable organisms that pose a potential health concern if discharged to surface waters.  Selected organisms include the pathogens Salmonella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Adenoviruses as well as indicator organisms Enterococcus and coliphage (F-specific and somatic).


Title: Assessing inactivation of pathogens by a halogen delivery device (HaloPure(R))
Funding Organization: HaloSource, Inc.
Project Duration: Ongoing since 2008

Description: Household water treatment (HWT) is an important means of decontaminating drinking water for people who lack a clean water source, particularly in developing countries. Many different HWT devices are being marketed worldwide. HaloPure(R) media are a component of several HWT devices. It consists of polymer beads which bind bromine or chlorine, and deliver an appropriate residual to water that passes through them. Inactivation of bacterial and viral pathogens by this method is being assessed. See also Coulliette et al. 2010 and McLennan et al. 2009 on the 'Publications' page.

Title:

Studying the Historical Record of Pollution using Molecular Tools and Great Lakes Cores.

Funding Organization: National Science Foundation
Project Duration: Ongoing since 2011

Description: Investigations and comparisons of large scale historic water quality records are rare because standardized water quality protocols have been modified numerous times over the years. Subsequently, policy makers do not have long term data to investigate how anthropogenic activities and climate have shaped fecal pollution levels. Studies have shown that sediment cores can measure historic nutrient loading and fecal pollution in aquatic ecosystems. The objective of the research will determine how climate and anthropogenic activities are associated with historic enteric molecular markers in Lake St. Clair sediment cores. These results will help determine how to better manage these watersheds in order to improve public health.

Title: Development of new molecular tools for detecting human pathogenic viruses to study ballast water quality

Funding Organization: National Science Foundation / PIRE
Project Duration: Ongoing since 2013

Description: Metagenomic study of the virome to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in ballast water


Title: Advancing next generation genomic tools for discovery of the food microbiome from the field to the store.

Funding Organization: USDA / NIFA
Project Duration: Ongoing since 2013

Description: An increasingly number of foodborne outbreaks associated with fresh produce have been observed in the United States.  This indicates the vulnerability of our food systems to contamination and public health risk.  The premise of this project is that the next gneration of genomic technology will (i) advance knowledge and understanding of the food-environment microbiome through the assessment of viruses as part of the microbial community from the field to the store and (ii) support food safety monitoring practices and ultimately transform how we test.  We plan:

(1) To use metagenomics with Illumina sequencing to generate a virome view of various fresh produce (cantaloupe, tomato, lettuce) as well as changes from the field to the store.

(2) Take on a laboratory experiement to examine a seeded bacteriophage consortia during processing and packing of lettuce, to address metagenomic methodology and the potential for changes in the virome.

(3) To use new bioinformatics approaches to analyze the metagenomic fingerprints to assess the microbial ecology of various fresh produce, from the field to the store.

(4) To identify novel viral genetic markers and alternative phage to better inform healthy food systems.

Through the activities mentioned above, our overall project goal is to provide a comprehensive view of the virome of our food from the natural field environment through the built food delivery system, which will guide the efforts towards indentification of new targets for monitoring food safety.