Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Room: Exhibit Hall A
Cassandra Bush - Norfolk State University
Co-Author(s): Dr. Nazir Barekzi
The Elizabeth River is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay watershed adjacent to the Norfolk State university campus. The Elizabeth River has been impacted by anthropogenic factors resulting in low water quality. In order to determine the extent of the impact humans have had and to find a method of remediation, this project has focused on identifying the presence of bacteria and the presence or absence of bacteriophage in the Elizabeth River and its banks. Methods: Water samples were collected from the Harbor Park Ferry dock on the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River using a Meyer water-sampler. Water temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen levels, and turbidity were taken to assess water quality. The water samples were filtered using a nylon membrane 90mm pore filter through vacuum filtration. The filters were placed on top of Luria agar plates to determine bacterial load. The plates were observed at 7 and 28 hours for bacterial growth and colony morphology. Subsequently, the filtrate was evaluated on Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium smegmatis to identify specific phage to those hosts. Results: Water temperature at the time of sampling was 27C, salinity was within the normal range (1.5%), pH was 7.2, dissolved oxygen (DO) levels were 6 mg/L, and turbidity was 84cm. Among these factors, the level of DO was on the lower end of the acceptable DO range. The plates at 7 hours indicated significant bacterial presence. At 28 hours the bacterial count was too numerous to count and indicated significant bacterial growth. Surprisingly, the colony morphology was different on each plate suggesting diversity of bacteria. Conclusion: However, to determine the overall diversity of bacteria and phage, a Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) method of viral analysis will be undertaken. Preliminary investigations indicated a correlation between the poor water quality and the high volume of bacteria in the Elizabeth river. Future work will focus on determining the extent of bacterial contamination and the viral diversity. The goal of this study is the enhance our understanding of bacterial diversity, phage diversity and ecological diversity of the tidewater region of Virginia.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This study was supported, in part, by a grant from NSF (HBCU-UP-RIA Grant 1900164) awarded to Dr. Nazir Barekzi, Assistant Professor, Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nazir Barekzi, email@example.com
Role: I was 100% invested on this project from start to finish. I helped prepare protocols and media, and collected all the data. I conducted literature searches and prepared regular reports on my progress.