Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Charles C. Somerville

Second Advisor

Frank L. Binder

Third Advisor

Ronald E. Gain


Microbial surveying using antibiotic resistant bacteria, fecal coliforms, and virulence genes is an approach not previously tested on the Great Kanawha River. Research objectives were to test antibiotic resistant and fecal coliform bacteria as bioindicators of water quality, and develop a multiplex- polymerase chain reaction (mPCR) system for identification of stx1, stx2, and eaeA DNA sequences in isolated fecal coliforms (FC). Fecal indicator populations and antibiotic resistant populations were demonstrated to be independent. Bacterial populations were assigned impact score(s) (IS) values for each sample site based on data set percent ranks. Population scores were summed per sample site to generate Relative IS, used to visualize water variability. Relative IS95 for both seasons were at about zero between river miles (RM) 95-60 (toward origin), reach highest levels at RM 55-45 and return to levels similar to those toward the origin for RM 35-00 (toward mouth). Trends appear to be occurring in approximately the same locations although not with the same level of impact. Spring versus summer Relative IS95 comparisons show no significant correlations (P ≥ 0.05). A total of 13 (12.0%) of 108 mPCR assayed FC isolates were positive for at least one target gene sequence. Two of the 13 were carriers of multiple target genes. No isolates were carriers of all three target genes. Similar IS seasonal patterns show the use of this impact score index to identify areas of poor water quality is independent of sampling season tested as long as samples are collected during similar flow regimes.


Water quality - Kanawha River (W. Va.)