Microbe–sediment interactions in Great Lakes recreational waters: Implications for human health risk Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractMicrobial assessments of recreational water have traditionally focused on culturing or DNA‐based approaches of the planktonic water column, omitting influence from microbe–sediment relationships. Sediment (bed and suspended) has been shown to often harbour levels of bacteria higher than the planktonic phase. The fate of suspended sediment (SS) bacteria is extensively related to transport dynamics (e.g., deposition) of the associated sediment/floc. When hydraulic energy allows, SS will settle, introducing new (potentially pathogenic) organisms to the bed. With turbulence, including waves, currents and swimmers, the risk of human ingestion is elevated due to resuspension of bed sediment and associated microbes. This research used multiplex nanofluidic reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR on RNA of bacteria associated with bed and SS to explore the active bacteria in freshwater shorelines. Bacterial genes of human health concern regarding recreational water use were targeted, such as faecal indicator bacteria (FIB), microbial source tracking genes and virulence factors from waterborne pathogens. Results indicate avian sources (i.e., gulls, geese) to be the largest nonpoint source of FIB associated with sediment in Great Lakes shorelines. This research introduces a novel approach to microbial water quality assessments and enhances our understanding of microbe–sediment dynamics and the quality of freshwater beaches.


  • VanMensel, Danielle
  • Chaganti, Subba Rao
  • Droppo, Ian
  • Weisener, Christopher G

publication date

  • September 2023