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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #443984

Research Project: Monitoring and Managing Microbial Water Quality for Food Safety

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-42610-001-012-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 1, 2023
End Date: Apr 30, 2026

Microbial fate and transport of pathogens are potential causes of irrigation water impairment and consequent food safety, public health, and agricultural enterprise sustainability issues. Research is needed to improve available tools for monitoring and managing microbial water quality for agricultural management practices. The objectives of this work are 1) to develop biofilm, chemical-based, and sensing technologies for the detection, survival, fate, transport, and persistence of major contaminants (i.e., pathogens, organic and inorganic contaminants); and 2) to apply technologies in water resource management systems with emphasis on protecting food safety.

In collaboration with ARS, the cooperator will develop and apply biofilm-based, chemical-based and sensing technologies to the following water resource focus areas: Remote Sensing (e.g., Micro-Electrochemical Systems), Agricultural Built Environment (irrigation systems, conveyance systems, filtration systems), Streams, and Irrigated Produce Farms. The research will be focused on (1) development of real-time biofilm sensors for remote deployment, (2) development of biofilm-based detection of organic contaminants and pathogens in irrigation water (i.e., bovine vaccines, pesticides, forever chemicals), (3) characterization and management (treatment alternatives) of organics, solids, and pathogens in water supplies for irrigation settings, (4) application of high throughput pathogen detection and modeling to irrigation settings, and (5) microbial community and water chemistry changes associated with reduced water flow and increased temperature in irrigation systems.