• Application of Advanced Molecular Techniques in Applied Environmental Microbiology

      Pepper, Ian L.; Gerba, Chuck P.; Iker, Brandon Charles; Rock, Channah; Bright, Kelly; Pepper, Ian L.; Gerba, Chuck P. (The University of Arizona., 2013)
      Recent advancements in molecular biology such as next generation sequencing and more sensitive and rapid molecular detection methods like qPCR, have historically been developed for clinical applications in human genetics and for health care diagnostic purposes. The high demand for faster and more accurate molecular assays in the health care field has driven rapid development of inexpensive molecular techniques that when applied to the science of environmental microbiology, provides an unprecedented level of understanding of the microbial world around us. The goal of this dissertation is to begin to apply more advanced molecular technologies to problems in applied environmental microbiology. Appendix A is a brief literature review of next generation sequencing technologies for applications in environmental microbiology. Appendix B focuses on the development of a more robust virus nucleic extraction kit for the detection of viral genomes from environmental samples found to contain high concentrations of qPCR inhibitors, such as humic acids or heavy metals. Appendix C summarizes one of the largest virus surveys done in the US, using state of the art qPCR technologies in both wastewater influent and effluent from two wastewater treatment plants in the Southwest. Data suggests that traditional virus indicators may not be a viable tool to evaluate fecally impacted source water or virus removal during water treatment. The third study summarized in Appendix D, provides one of the first insights into the microbial ecology of biofilms utilized as biological treatment media using Roche 454 amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene.