Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Michael P. Shiaris

Second Advisor

Alan Christian

Third Advisor

Katherine Gibson


Enterococcus is the standard environmental indicator of marine fecal pollution in the US. At present, indicator counts are not discriminative however, as they do not differentiate between individual species the genus, two of which correlate with levels of humans marine pathogens. In this study the occurrences of fecal and non-fecal enterococci were observed in two Massachusetts coastal watersheds. Sample collections were made at multiples sites and subsequently enriched through selective media. Species-specific PCR was then performed on all bacterial isolates recovered by the enrichment process. In the urban location, the frequency of E. faecalis among the observed isolates increased from 25 percent to 59 percent compared to the more pristine sampling site. Also E. faecium, an indicator bacterium, was not present in the non-urban watershed. These results in conjunction with multiple dimensional scaling analyses suggest that E. faecalis may in fact be prevalent not only in high densities areas within urban coastal watersheds but ubiquitously. On the other hand, E. faecium may only persist in urban environments associated with high human densities. Consequently, coastal wetlands that possess endemic indicator bacteria may have an impact on the reliability of water quality analysis, leading to possible public health concerns as well as financial ramifications for local communities.


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