WRRC Seminar - Finding the Needle in the Water Column

February 7, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Mānoa Campus, MSB 114

Finding the Needle in the Water Column

Stephaney D. Leskinen, Ph.D.
Research Associate Advanced Biosensors
Laboratory Center for Biological Defense
Dept. of Cell Biology, Microbiology
and Molecular Biology (CMMB)
University of South Florida

Waterborne pathogens present a public health threat as a result of natural, accidental or deliberate contamination events. In addition, increasing extreme weather events brought about by climate change alter stormwater flows, which can affect pathogen delivery to surface waters. The EPA recommends fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), enterococci and E. coli, as part of its recreational water quality criteria. Monitoring for contamination currently involves using a toolbox of standard and, more recently, rapid analytical methods such as qPCR. However, the relationship between fecally transmitted pathogens and levels of FIB remains questionable, especially in subtropical and tropical environments like Hawaii where FIB survive for extended periods and may regrow. Unfortunately, monitoring water directly for pathogens remains expensive, labor intensive and unreliable. Over my years of studying microbial water quality, it has become clear that monitoring, and consequently risk assessment, is limited by our ability to detect the low number of randomly distributed pathogens that might be present in potable, source, irrigation and recreational waters. The work that I have done since completion of my doctorate has confirmed that concentration of potentially harmful microorganisms from water is an essential component of water quality assessments. My most recent research focuses on pathogen detection, including development and evaluation of a portable, multi-use automated concentration system (PMACS, patent pending) based on dead-end ultrafiltration, a device that appears to fill this critical gap.

Ticket Information

Event Sponsor
Water Resources Research Center, Mānoa Campus

More Information
Philip Moravcik, 956-3097, morav@hawaii.edu

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