Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria are naturally occurring in marine ecosystems globally. However, with recent environmental changes, such as increased water temperature, they have an increasing presence in northeast United States waters, including the Great Bay Estuary in New Hampshire. Due to the accumulation of bacteria in filter feeders that are often consumed, such as oysters, surveillance is necessary to monitor bacteria. I spent the summer of 2017 collecting plankton, water, suspended solids (floating material), sediment, and oysters from the Great Bay Estuary to characterize how suspended solids might impact V. parahaemolyticus concentrations in oysters. I hypothesized that when the mass of the suspended solids increased, the bacterial concentration in the oysters would also increase, due to the oysters filtering the water around them and collecting floating particles that might have bacteria clinging to them. My data supported my hypothesis and suggested that inorganic material, such as sand and clay, plays a bigger role in this bacterial accumulation than organic material, such as plant matter and plankton. This information could be used to develop new methods to ensure consumers have access to seafood that is safe to eat.
UNH Undergraduate Research Journal
Durham, NH: Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research, University of New Hampshire
Berenson, Audrey, "Impact of Suspended Particles on Bacterial Concentrations in Great Bay Estuary Oysters" (2018). Inquiry Journal. 8.