James River - Public health microbiology
Bacterial contamination of surface waters creates significant public health hazards, especially in urbanized areas where microorganisms are introduced into surface waters via precipitation runoff, combined sewage overflows (CSOs), sanitary sewage overflows (SSOs), and treated wastewater. The risks of illness from contact with surface water are usually determined by estimated concentrations of coliform bacteria by growing them in culture. These culture-based methods are becoming increasingly questionable as molecular biology techniques advance to allow faster, accurate, identification of pathogens without biases associated with cell cultures. Our research in this area involves detailed temporal and spatial study of bacterial indicators of wastewater pollution in the nearby James River. In addition to studying bacterial pathogen loads, we also consider the environmental and anthropogenic drivers of antibiotic resistant bacteria and of harmful algal blooms like those caused by Microcystis.
Recent publications in this area include:
- Brown, B.L., R.V. LePrell, R.B. Franklin, M.C. Rivera, F.M. Cabral, H.L. Eaves, V. Gardiakos, K.P. Keegan, and T.L. King. 2015. Metagenomic analysis of planktonic microbial consortia from a non-tidal urban-impacted segment of James River. Standards in Genomic Sciences. 10:65. DOI:10.1186/s40793-015-0062-5
- Wood, J.D., R.B. Franklin, G. Garman, S. McIninch. A.J. Porter, and P.A. Bukaveckas. 2014. Exposure to the cyanotoxin microcystin arising from inter-specific differences in feeding habits among fish and shellfish in the James River Estuary, Virginia. Environmental Science & Technology. 48:5194-5202. DOI:10.1021/es403491k
- Furry, J.R. 2011. Characterizing the distribution of planktonic fecal bacteria in the James River, Richmond, Virginia. M.S. Thesis, VCU Department of Biology.