Fecal-borne microorganisms impact many shellfish-growing waters in coastal New Hampshire. Watersheds are often subject to fecal contamination by a variety of sources and efforts to improve water quality are often limited because of lack of information on which contaminant sources are most significant. Ribotyping and other microbial source tracking methods are useful new tools for providing information on the sources of fecal-borne bacterial contaminants in surface waters. New Hampshire has areas of abundant oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and clam (Mya arenaria) resources, the latter being most important in Hampton Harbor. In this study, Escherichia coli isolates (bacteria colonies) were obtained from water samples collected from ten sites in Hampton Harbor year-round during both dry and wet conditions. A library of known E. coli isolates was created from twenty different potential source species in the New Hampshire coastal watershed, including humans, livestock, pets, wildlife and avian species. The ribosomal RNA DNA of E. coli isolates was analyzed using ribotyping in which the patterns of ribosomal DNA were detected using chemiluminescence, then optimized and analyzed using GelCompar II software. A total of 249 isolates from the twenty known source species were used as a reference to identify sources for 390 unknown isolates from water samples taken from August 2000 through October 2001. Banding patterns for water samples and source species isolates were considered to be the same if there was 80% or greater similarity between patterns. Overall, sources for 62% of the isolates were identified.
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
New Hampshire Estuaries Project
Jones, Stephen H. and Landry, Natalie, "Tracking Bacterial Pollution Sources in Hampton Harbor" (2003). PREP Reports & Publications. 342.