Fecal Source Tracking Using Human and Bovine Adenovirus and Polyomaviruses

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7/1/2009 - 6/30/2011

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  • Joel Pedersen, UW-Madison
  • Katherine McMahon, UW-Madison
  • Sharon Long, UW-Madison

Confirming the presence and determining source(s) of fecal contamination to groundwater is critical for the protection of human health and environmental quality. Adenoviruses (AdV) and polyomaviruses (PyV) have been suggested as potentially valuable, source-specific fecal indicator organisms. The presence of AdV and PyV at high concentration in sewage and animal wastes has been documented. As DNA viruses, AdV and PyV show increased survival in the environment over common microbial indicators and enteric RNA viruses and are amenable to stream-lined quantification by real-time PCR. In our prior Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council project, we developed methods for the concentration and discrimination of human and bovine AdV in water samples. Moving forward, the following steps can be taken to improve or augment viral fecal source tracking procedures available to Wisconsin stakeholders through the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH): (1) implement PCR methods for the quantification of human polyomaviruses JC and BK and bovine PyV; (2) adapt our current hollow-fiber ultrafiltration-based groundwater collection system for large-volume sample collection; (3) determine the recovery of PyV and AdV from water by this upgraded filtration system; (4) determine the prevalence and genomic signature of bovine AdV and PyV in manure samples to confirm the utility of these viruses as FST tools; and (5) probe the presence of human and bovine AdV and PyV in selected private wells to clarify the relationship between viral and traditional fecal indicators and, to the extent possible, to resolve homeowners’ on-going uncertainly and frustration related to persistent water contamination. This investigation will directly impact the quality of life of selected homeowners and will broadly benefit the local state agencies (e.g., WDNR, WSLH) mandated to monitor water quality and to address the fundamental causes of water quality degradation.

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