Chapter 3.4.6 : Fecal Indicator Organism Modeling and Microbial Source Tracking in Environmental Waters

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Mathematical models have been widely applied to surface waters to estimate rates of settling, resuspension, flow, dispersion, and advection in order to calculate movement of particles that influence water quality. Of particular interest are the movement, survival, and persistence of microbial pathogens or their surrogates, which may contaminate recreational water, drinking water, or shellfish. Most models devoted to microbial water quality have been focused on fecal indicator organisms (FIO), which act as a surrogate for pathogens and viruses. Process-based modeling and statistical modeling have been used to track contamination events to source and to predict future events. The use of these two types of models require different levels of expertise and input; process-based models rely on theoretical physical constructs to explain present conditions and biological distribution while data-based, statistical models use extant paired data to do the same. The selection of the appropriate model and interpretation of results is critical to proper use of these tools in microbial source tracking. Integration of the modeling approaches could provide insight for tracking and predicting contamination events in real time. A review of modeling efforts reveals that process-based modeling has great promise for microbial source tracking efforts; further, combining the understanding of physical processes influencing FIO contamination developed with process-based models and molecular characterization of the population by gene-based (i.e., biological) or chemical markers may be an effective approach for locating sources and remediating contamination in order to protect human health better.

Citation: Nevers M, Byappanahalli M, Phanikumar M, Whitman R. 2016. Fecal Indicator Organism Modeling and Microbial Source Tracking in Environmental Waters, p 3.4.6-1-3.4.6-16. In Yates M, Nakatsu C, Miller R, Pillai S (ed), Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Fourth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.4.6
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Image of FIGURE 1

Output of a process-based model showing of distribution in water at a Chicago beach. Diagram indicates concentrations 8 hr after a resuspension event within the embayment. (a) Suspended culturable concentration (b) settled culturable concentration. Reprinted with permission from ( ). doi:10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.4.6.f1

Citation: Nevers M, Byappanahalli M, Phanikumar M, Whitman R. 2016. Fecal Indicator Organism Modeling and Microbial Source Tracking in Environmental Waters, p 3.4.6-1-3.4.6-16. In Yates M, Nakatsu C, Miller R, Pillai S (ed), Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Fourth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.4.6
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Image of FIGURE 2

Diagram outlining the process that might be followed for using models to identify sources of fecal contamination and initiate remediation activities. doi:10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.4.6.f2

Citation: Nevers M, Byappanahalli M, Phanikumar M, Whitman R. 2016. Fecal Indicator Organism Modeling and Microbial Source Tracking in Environmental Waters, p 3.4.6-1-3.4.6-16. In Yates M, Nakatsu C, Miller R, Pillai S (ed), Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Fourth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.4.6
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Image of FIGURE 3

Example of a structural equation model (path analysis) for determining the source and pathway of FIO contamination in nearshore beach water. The exhibited results are from data collected from 63rd Street Beach in Chicago in 2000, from several water depths, shoreline sand, and submerged sand. Numbers on each box refer to the cumulative value, while numbers associated with the arrows are regression weights. Significance is indicated: *, 0.05, **, 0.01; ***, 0.001. Errors (E1–E4) are included in path analysis. Reprinted with permission from ( ). doi:10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.4.6.f3

Citation: Nevers M, Byappanahalli M, Phanikumar M, Whitman R. 2016. Fecal Indicator Organism Modeling and Microbial Source Tracking in Environmental Waters, p 3.4.6-1-3.4.6-16. In Yates M, Nakatsu C, Miller R, Pillai S (ed), Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Fourth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.4.6
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