It has been understood that the presence of coliphages (bacteriophages specific for E. coli) in water is an indirect measurement of fecal contamination. Bacteriophages have been suggested to hold an important role in regulating the bacterial population. This pilot study analyzes the relationship between the presence of coliphages in the water in the aviary at Brookgreen Gardens and how environmental factors such as temperature, pH, and turbidity affect the presence of these viruses over the time period of three months (June 2017 through August 2017). Coliphages found in volary water sources were speculated to be deposited directly by birds that live in the Brookgreen Gardens aviary. These birds remain in an enclosed area, thus making the location a reservoir potentially rich in bacteriophage number and diversity. Plaque assays were conducted to look for the presence of the coliphages. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis was conducted on all samples collected in order to characterize any possible coliphages identified via plaque assays. The results gathered from both microbial (plaque assay) and molecular (PCR) methods varied immensely, with numerous positive results found at each site for each week of analysis over the three-month period. All PCR tests conducted on samples were deemed negative for coliphage presence, indicating that these coliphages are especially unique or may be RNA-based. These findings confirm that there are indeed bacteriophages present in the Brookgreen Gardens aviary, and that pH, turbidity, and temperature did not appear to play a prominent role in the presence of the coliphages. The location in the aviary which yielded the most positive results (Site 1) was the site at which the birds were most frequently observed defecating, providing indirect evidence that the fecal matter of the birds is the most important factor in bacteriophage presence.
Shirley, Olivia; Pieterse, Lisa; and Richardson, Paul E.
"Identification of Coliphages in the Aviary at Brookgreen Gardens and the Factors that Might Influence Coliphage Population Dynamics in this Cypress Swamp Environment,"
Journal of the South Carolina Academy of Science: Vol. 16:
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/jscas/vol16/iss1/9