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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #410994

Research Project: Managing Nutrients and Assessing Pathogen Emission Risks for Sustainable Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Impact of recharge and fecal contamination on microbial communities in a karst aquifer

item Heffron, Joseph
item Cook, Rachel
item FIRNSTAHL, AARON - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item STOKDYK, JOEL - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Burch, Tucker

Submitted to: American Water Resources Association Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/21/2024
Publication Date: 4/26/2024
Citation: Heffron, J.A., Cook, R.M., Firnstahl, A.D., Stokdyk, J.P., Burch, T.R. 2024. Impact of recharge and fecal contamination on microbial communities in a karst aquifer. American Water Resources Association Conference Proceedings. April 25-26, 2024.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Subsurface microbial communities can affect groundwater pollution through interactions with contaminants, but little is known about these communities and their response to surface influence. Our goal was to relate differences in microbial communities to fecal contamination from domestic sewage and livestock manure. Microbial communities were characterized in water samples (n = 138) from private wells in Kewaunee County, WI via Illumina 16S amplicon sequencing. Relative abundance and diversity were assessed relative to land use, geology, groundwater recharge, and microbial source tracking (MST) markers for human and bovine fecal contamination. Groundwater communities were similar across the county, which may reflect similar land use, similar groundwater conditions, and/or the rapid and interconnected flow of water through the karst aquifer. Preliminary evidence indicates changes in relative abundance of prominent microbial taxa in response to groundwater recharge. In contrast, human and bovine MST markers were associated with subtler changes to microbial community structure. Groundwater microbial communities established under the recurring influence of human and bovine inputs may respond more to recharge events than to specific fecal events. The long-term impacts of contamination on groundwater communities require further study.