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Water Sci Technol. 2003;47(3):39-43.

The use of chemical and molecular microbial indicators for faecal source identification.

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Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) Ltd., Christchurch Science Centre, PO Box 29-181, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Identifying the source of faecal pollution is important to enable appropriate management of faecal pollution of water. We are developing and evaluating a combination of these microbial and chemical indicators better able to identify the source of faecal pollution. These assays make use of a combination of direct PCR, culturing, and colony hybridisation to identify source specific species of Bifidobacterium, Rhodococcus and Bacteroides. In conjunction with assays for (a) fluorescent whitening agents and (b) faecal sterols and stanols, these indicators were able to identify human derived faecal pollution in river water containing inputs from septic tanks, municipal oxidation ponds, farmed animals and feral animals. Differentiating amongst the animal sources was more difficult and will require development of molecular assays for organisms specific to each animal group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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