• Project No 1056
  • Project Name Tool box development for microbial source tracking water sources and catchments
  • Lead Organisation Seqwater
  • Research Lead Griffith University
  • Main Researcher Helen Stratton
  • Completion Year 2015

Project Description

‘Microbial source tracking’ (MST) is a technique that aims to identify the animal that excreted faeces and polluted water. There are a number of ways to do this, but the problem is that no one method accurately identifies the origins of faecal pollution in environmental water samples. This research found that faeces could be stored in a freezer or a laboratory -80°C cold-store for up to a month without changing the relative numbers of the different types of bacteria in the samples of faeces. Up to seven faeces samples from different animals were mixed together and examined using 17 techniques to identify the original animals. Three of the most accurate and reliable methods used mitochondrial DNA, the analysis of a bacterial enzyme sequence (beta-glucuronidase), and specific DNA sequences form bacteria known to come from humans, horses and cows. These three types of tests were selected for inclusion in a ‘Toolbox’ from which a combination of methods will allow accurate and reliable management of faecal contaminants in source waters.