Microbial Source Tracking Using Quantitative and Digital PCR To Identify Sources of Fecal Contamination in Stormwater, River Water, and Beach Water in a Great Lakes Area of Concern Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Fecal contamination of recreational water poses a persistent and ongoing problem, particularly in areas of concern around the Great Lakes. The identification of the source(s) of fecal contamination is essential for safeguarding public health as well as guiding remediation efforts; however, fecal contamination may frequently be present at low levels and remain undetectable by certain methodologies. In this study, we utilized microbial source tracking techniques using both quantitative and digital PCR assays to identify sources of contamination. Our results indicated high levels of human fecal contamination within stormwater outfalls, while lower levels were observed throughout the watershed. Additionally, high levels of gull fecal contamination were detected at Rouge Beach, particularly during drier sampling events. Furthermore, our results indicated an increased sensitivity of the digital PCR assay to detect both human and gull contamination, suggesting it could be a viable tool for future microbial source tracking studies.


  • Staley, Zachery R
  • Boyd, Rachel J
  • Shum, Phoenix
  • Edge, Thomas

publication date

  • October 15, 2018