A Combined Digital PCR and Next Generation DNA-Sequencing Based Approach for Tracking Nearshore Pollutant Dynamics Along the Southwest United States/Mexico Border

Amity G. Zimmer-Faust, Joshua A. Steele, Xianyi Xiong, Christopher Staley, Madison Griffith, Michael J. Sadowsky, Margarita Diaz, John F. Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ocean currents, multiple fecal bacteria input sources, and jurisdictional boundaries can complicate pollution source tracking and associated mitigation and management efforts within the nearshore coastal environment. In this study, multiple microbial source tracking tools were employed to characterize the impact and reach of an ocean wastewater treatment facility discharge in Mexico northward along the coast and across the Southwest United States- Mexico Border. Water samples were evaluated for fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), Enterococcus by culture-based methods, and human-associated genetic marker (HF183) and Enterococcus by droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR). In addition, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis was performed and the SourceTracker algorithm was used to characterize the bacterial community of the wastewater treatment plume and its contribution to beach waters. Sampling dates were chosen based on ocean conditions associated with northern currents. Evidence of a gradient in human fecal pollution that extended north from the wastewater discharge across the United States/Mexico border from the point source was observed using human-associated genetic markers and microbial community analysis. The spatial extent of fecal contamination observed was largely dependent on swell and ocean conditions. These findings demonstrate the utility of a combination of molecular tools for understanding and tracking specific pollutant sources in dynamic coastal water environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number674214
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 6 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding. This study was funded by the County of San Diego and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The authors thank the following for their invaluable contribution to the project: Jeff Chokry, David Wanless, Jason Lindquist, Robert Stabenow, and the entire Proyecto Fronterizo de Educaci?n Ambiental Team.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Zimmer-Faust, Steele, Xiong, Staley, Griffith, Sadowsky, Diaz and Griffith.

Keywords

  • 16S ribosomal DNA analysis
  • coastal water
  • droplet digital PCR
  • microbial source tracking
  • wastewater

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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