Dean of the College and Bard Summer Research Institute Present
Friday, June 22, 2018
Sewage, Sewage, Everywhere: Land, Air, and Water Exchange of Sewage Bacteria in the Saw Kill Watershed
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito ’60 Auditorium
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
M. Elias Dueker, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
The extra-enteric ecology of sewage-indicating bacteria presents complexities for their use in management of water resources. Once released into the environment, these indicators may persist in sediments, and participate in multidirectional microbial exchange among water, sediment, and air. This complicates sewage pollution detection in public waterways, particularly in shallow freshwater tributaries prone to sediment resuspension. To address these challenges, we compared bacterial communities in sediment, water, and air in a small tributary of the Hudson River, above and below a sewage outflow. Using both culture-based and culture-independent methods, we found that sewage-associated bacteria, including sewage indicators, were present in sediment, water, and air on this waterway. Microbial communities from these ecological compartments were distinct, with sediment samples harboring greater microbial diversity than overlying water. Microbial communities responded to precipitation events, with water and sediment samples increasing in similarity with increases in waterway turbidity. While sediment samples clearly harbored sewage-indicating bacteria, they maintained a lower diversity of sewage-associated bacteria when compared to overlying water, suggesting that sediments may selectively promote environmental persistence of sewage-indicating bacteria.
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Time: 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito ’60 Auditorium