DOE News
    Doe Science news source
    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2019-06-06 12:30:21
    • Article ID: 713981

    Berkeley Lab Technology Provides Clarity Amid Hawaiian Water Contamination Concerns

    Scientists use a powerful microbial detection device to show that suggestions of sewage in Kauai's watershed were mostly false positives

    • Credit: Eric Dubinsky/Berkeley Lab

      At Gillin's Beach in the Mahaulepu watershed, signs were frequently posted warning beach goers not to swim. However, the team found no evidence of any contamination during an entire year year of monitoring.

    • Credit: Eric Dubinsky/Berkeley Lab

      Gary Andersen (left) stands with (from left to right) Wataru Kumangai, Gary Ueunten, and Watson Okubo from the State of Hawaii DOH at a sampling site in Poipu.

    One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Hawaii are warm, tropical beaches with inviting, clear water. In fact, favorable beach water quality is the lifeblood for Hawaii’s $18 billion annual tourist industry, the largest single contributor to the state’s economy. So, it comes as no surprise that Hawaii water officials continuously monitor for sources of contamination that could threaten their main attraction.

    For years, routine testing has shown that watersheds of the Mahaulepu Valley and Waikomo Stream in southeast Kauai frequently contain high counts of potentially pathogenic fecal indicator bacteria (FIB). Though past investigations have concluded that the FIB are not being introduced into the water via sewage leaks or illegal sewage dumping, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) remained concerned about the source. To better understand the cause of the high FIB counts, the DOH commissioned a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) microbial ecologists Gary Andersen and Eric Dubinsky.

    The duo is frequently invited to lead microbial water assessment projects thanks to their expertise and unparalleled toolkit, which centers around a credit card-sized microbial detection technology called the PhyloChip. Invented by Andersen and others at Berkeley Lab in 2008, the PhyloChip has been used previously to monitor water in the San Francisco Bay Area, tropical waters around coral reefs, and throughout the city of Singapore.

    After analyzing samples from 13 inland and coastal sites taken over the course of one year, the scientists concluded that there was no detectable human sewage in the Mahaulepu watershed, nor was there a significant presence of livestock or avian wildlife fecal matter. Two stream sites within the watershed did show isolated incidences of pig and cow fecal contamination, yet the popular beach area downstream from these sites was clean.

    “The PhyloChip is able to rapidly profile the entire microbial community present in the water samples and use this information to detect bacteria that are unique to specific animal or human sources,” said Dubinsky, who is also a project scientist in the University of California Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management. “Unlike conventional fecal contamination tests, which use a handful or even just a single species to identify the potential for contamination, our approach uses a diverse set of hundreds of different bacteria that are characteristic of each fecal source. At the same time, it can detect nearly 60,000 species of bacteria and archaea, meaning that we can find dangerous microbes present in a water source even if we don’t anticipate them.”

    In the neighboring Waikomo watershed – an area that includes Poipu beach, one of the island’s most popular tourist destinations – Dubinsky and Andersen found only minimal evidence of human fecal contamination. The PhyloChip data suggested that one beach had been contaminated with human fecal matter by a nearby hotel’s sewage well. Interestingly, this site had not been identified by past monitoring with traditional FIB tests.

    Having allayed fears of widespread sewage system leaks, the scientists propose that the historically high FIB levels are a misleadingly alarming consequence of using old-school testing methods, none of which were designed for use in the tropics.

    Dubinsky and Andersen believe that the presence of FIB in Kauai’s water is likely due to enterococci and Clostridium perfringens – a genus and species, respectively, that typically grow inside animal digestive tracts – flourishing in the environment outside of their typical biological hosts. They note that this phenomenon is common in tropical regions, thanks to the heat and humidity, and the natural presence of these bacteria in water does not necessarily put people at greater risk of gastrointestinal illness. However, many standard fecal bacteria detection tests employed to monitor swimming holes and beaches use these organisms as markers of dangerous contamination.

    “The PhyloChip is able to achieve an extremely high level of confidence in detecting specific sources of contamination through a unique process that examines over a million DNA sequences simultaneously,” said Andersen, a senior scientist in the Biosciences Area.

    In 2017, the PhyloChip caught the interest of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ongoing studies between the Andersen lab and at the EPA are using the technology to evaluate agricultural fecal runoff in multiple watersheds through the U.S., including Nebraska, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Washington, and Massachusetts. “Our goal is to replicate and review data produced through the PhyloChip method so that we can compare it to other source-tracking methods,” said Steven Baker, the co-lead researcher on this project from EPA Region 7. “Increasing our confidence in identifying when specific sources of fecal contamination occur strengthens our ability to make the correct management decisions and helps us to prioritize where to place our mitigation efforts.”

    On top of its environmental monitoring applications, the PhyloChip could enable advances in understanding and improving human health. Second Genome, Inc. has licensed the technology to discover and develop therapeutics based on targets identified through the examination of the human microbiome.

    Andersen and Dubinsky’s study was funded by the Hawaii DOH.

    # # #

    Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

    DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://energy.gov/science

    • other-fb
    • other-tw
    X
    X
    X
    • Filters

    • × Clear Filters
    A Trojan Horse for Fusion Disruptions

    A Trojan Horse for Fusion Disruptions

    Thin-walled diamond shells carry payloads of boron dust; the dust mitigates destructive plasma disruptions in fusion confinement systems.

    Neutrons get a wider angle on DNA and RNA to advance 3D models

    Neutrons get a wider angle on DNA and RNA to advance 3D models

    Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland used neutrons at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to capture new information about DNA and RNA molecules and enable more accurate computer simulations of how they interact with everything from proteins to viruses.

    Found: New Bismuth Compounds in Well-Known Systems of Two Elements

    Found: New Bismuth Compounds in Well-Known Systems of Two Elements

    Scientists discover an unexpected source of new materials, with potential for energy applications.

    A quick liquid flip helps explain how morphing materials store information

    A quick liquid flip helps explain how morphing materials store information

    Experiments at SLAC's X-ray laser reveal in atomic detail how two distinct liquid phases in these materials enable fast switching between glassy and crystalline states that represent 0s and 1s in memory devices.

    A New Manufacturing Process for Aluminum Alloys

    A New Manufacturing Process for Aluminum Alloys

    Using a novel Solid Phase Processing approach, a research team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory eliminated several steps that are required during conventional extrusion processing of aluminum alloy powders, while also achieving a significant increase in product ductility. This is good news for sectors such as the automotive industry, where the high cost of manufacturing has historically limited the use of high-strength aluminum alloys made from powders.

    Flowing for Function

    Flowing for Function

    A flowing magnetically responsive liquid seamlessly regulates the shape and properties of solids, letting them perform an array of jobs.

    Science Snapshots: new nitrides, artificial photosynthesis, and TMDC semiconductors

    Science Snapshots: new nitrides, artificial photosynthesis, and TMDC semiconductors

    From Berkeley Lab: groundbreaking study maps out paths to new nitride materials; new framework for artificial photosynthesis; TMDCs don't have to be perfect to shine bright.

    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, June 17 2019

    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, June 17 2019

    ORNL story tips: New builders' tool by ORNL assesses design performance before construction begins; new pressure technique to manipulate magnetism in thin films could enhance electronic devices; ORNL outlines quantum sensing advances for better airport scanning, other applications.

    Superconducting Films for Particle Acceleration

    Superconducting Films for Particle Acceleration

    Researchers demonstrated record accelerating cavity performance using a technique that could lead to significant cost savings.

    Electron (or 'Hole') Pairs May Survive Effort to Kill Superconductivity

    Electron (or 'Hole') Pairs May Survive Effort to Kill Superconductivity

    Scientists seeking to understand the mechanism underlying superconductivity in "stripe-ordered" cuprates--copper-oxide materials with alternating areas of electric charge and magnetism--discovered an unusual metallic state when attempting to turn superconductivity off. They found that under the conditions of their experiment, even after the material loses its ability to carry electrical current with no energy loss, it retains some conductivity--and possibly the electron (or hole) pairs required for its superconducting superpower.


    • Filters

    • × Clear Filters

    Energy Department to Invest $32 Million in Computer Design of Materials

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will invest $32 million over the next four years to accelerate the design of new materials through use of supercomputers.

    Demarteau to head ORNL Physics Division

    Demarteau to head ORNL Physics Division

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has named Marcel Demarteau as Physics Division Director, effective June 17.

    PPPL and Oak Ridge manage new DOE program designed to speed development of fusion energy with private-public partnerships

    PPPL and Oak Ridge manage new DOE program designed to speed development of fusion energy with private-public partnerships

    Feature describes PPPL role in innovative DOE program to promote public-private partnerships to speed development of fusion energy.

    ORNL welcomes seven new research fellows to Innovation Crossroads

    ORNL welcomes seven new research fellows to Innovation Crossroads

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory welcomed seven technology innovators to join the third cohort of Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast's only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

    New DOE program connects fusion companies with national labs, taps ORNL to lead

    New DOE program connects fusion companies with national labs, taps ORNL to lead

    The Department of Energy has established the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy program, or INFUSE, to encourage private-public research partnerships for overcoming challenges in fusion energy development.

    Department of Energy Announces $75 Million for High Energy Physics Research

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $75 million in funding for 66 university research awards on a range of topics in high energy physics to advance knowledge of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.

    Ames Laboratory names James Morris Chief Research Officer

    Ames Laboratory names James Morris Chief Research Officer

    Dr. James Morris has been named Chief Research Officer at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory. His appointment follows an extensive search and will be effective June 17, 2019.

    Four scientists at PPPL awarded national and international honors

    Four scientists at PPPL awarded national and international honors

    Feature profiles four PPPL scientists who have received high honors.

    Brookhaven's Mircea Cotlet Named a Battelle "Inventor of the Year"

    Brookhaven's Mircea Cotlet Named a Battelle "Inventor of the Year"

    The global science and technology organization Battelle recognized materials scientist Mircea Cotlet of Brookhaven Lab's Center for Functional Nanomaterials for his research in applying self-assembly methods to control the interfaces between nanomaterials and other light-interacting components.

    Berkeley Lab Project to Pinpoint Methane 'Super Emitters'

    Berkeley Lab Project to Pinpoint Methane 'Super Emitters'

    Methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps about 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide, is commonly released from rice fields, dairies, landfills, and oil and gas facilities - all of which are plentiful in California. Now Berkeley Lab has been awarded $6 million by the state to find "super emitters" of methane in an effort to quantify and potentially mitigate methane emissions.


    • Filters

    • × Clear Filters
    A Trojan Horse for Fusion Disruptions

    A Trojan Horse for Fusion Disruptions

    Thin-walled diamond shells carry payloads of boron dust; the dust mitigates destructive plasma disruptions in fusion confinement systems.

    Found: New Bismuth Compounds in Well-Known Systems of Two Elements

    Found: New Bismuth Compounds in Well-Known Systems of Two Elements

    Scientists discover an unexpected source of new materials, with potential for energy applications.

    Flowing for Function

    Flowing for Function

    A flowing magnetically responsive liquid seamlessly regulates the shape and properties of solids, letting them perform an array of jobs.

    Superconducting Films for Particle Acceleration

    Superconducting Films for Particle Acceleration

    Researchers demonstrated record accelerating cavity performance using a technique that could lead to significant cost savings.

    Parceling Particle Beams

    Parceling Particle Beams

    Beam chopper cuts accelerator-generated ion beams under highly demanding conditions.

    An Interaction of Slipping Beams

    An Interaction of Slipping Beams

    Successful models of the fraught dynamics of two particle beams in close contact lead to smoother sailing in an area of particle acceleration.

    At DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, science drives next-gen creations

    At DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, science drives next-gen creations

    American ingenuity is providing radical productivity improvements from advanced materials and robotic systems developed at the Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Computer Simulation Shows Astrophysical Particle Acceleration

    Computer Simulation Shows Astrophysical Particle Acceleration

    Particles act in a way that justifies extrapolating simulation results to astrophysical scales.

    High-Fidelity Multiphysics Simulations to Improve Nuclear Reactor Safety and Economics

    High-Fidelity Multiphysics Simulations to Improve Nuclear Reactor Safety and Economics

    Engineers can model heat distribution in reactor designs with fewer or no approximations.

    Simulations Shed Light on Self-Healing Cement

    Simulations Shed Light on Self-Healing Cement

    A first-of-its-kind computer simulation reveals self-healing cement for geothermal and oil and gas wells performs better than originally thought.


    Spotlight

    ILSAMP Symposium showcases benefits for diverse students, STEM pipeline
    Monday May 20, 2019, 12:05 PM

    ILSAMP Symposium showcases benefits for diverse students, STEM pipeline

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Integrating Scientific Computing into Science Curricula
    Monday May 13, 2019, 11:05 AM

    Integrating Scientific Computing into Science Curricula

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Students from Minnesota and Massachusetts Win DOE's 29th National Science Bowl(r)
    Monday April 29, 2019, 02:05 PM

    Students from Minnesota and Massachusetts Win DOE's 29th National Science Bowl(r)

    Department of Energy, Office of Science

    DOE's Science Graduate Student Research Program Selects 70 Students to Pursue Research at DOE Laboratories
    Friday April 12, 2019, 03:05 PM

    DOE's Science Graduate Student Research Program Selects 70 Students to Pursue Research at DOE Laboratories

    Department of Energy, Office of Science

    Young Women's Conference in STEM seeks to change the statistics one girl at a time
    Thursday March 28, 2019, 03:05 PM

    Young Women's Conference in STEM seeks to change the statistics one girl at a time

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Students team with Argonne scientists and engineers to learn about STEM careers
    Tuesday March 12, 2019, 05:05 PM

    Students team with Argonne scientists and engineers to learn about STEM careers

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Lynbrook High wins 2019 SLAC Regional Science Bowl competition
    Wednesday February 13, 2019, 02:05 PM

    Lynbrook High wins 2019 SLAC Regional Science Bowl competition

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Equipping the next generation for a technological revolution
    Thursday January 24, 2019, 01:05 PM

    Equipping the next generation for a technological revolution

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Chemistry intern inspired by Argonne's real-world science
    Friday January 18, 2019, 05:05 PM

    Chemistry intern inspired by Argonne's real-world science

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Chasing a supernova
    Friday January 18, 2019, 04:05 PM

    Chasing a supernova

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Argonne intern streamlines the beamline
    Tuesday January 08, 2019, 02:05 PM

    Argonne intern streamlines the beamline

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Research on Light-Matter Interaction Could Lead to Improved Electronic and Optoelectronic Devices
    Thursday October 11, 2018, 04:00 PM

    Research on Light-Matter Interaction Could Lead to Improved Electronic and Optoelectronic Devices

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Innovating Our Energy Future
    Wednesday October 03, 2018, 07:05 PM

    Innovating Our Energy Future

    Oregon State University, College of Engineering

    Physics graduate student takes her thesis research to a Department of Energy national lab
    Tuesday October 02, 2018, 03:05 PM

    Physics graduate student takes her thesis research to a Department of Energy national lab

    University of Alabama at Birmingham

    Friday September 21, 2018, 01:05 PM

    "Model" students enjoy Argonne campus life

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Writing Code for a More Skilled and Diverse STEM Workforce
    Thursday September 06, 2018, 01:05 PM

    Writing Code for a More Skilled and Diverse STEM Workforce

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    New graduate student summer school launches at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
    Tuesday September 04, 2018, 11:30 AM

    New graduate student summer school launches at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    The Gridlock State
    Friday August 31, 2018, 06:05 PM

    The Gridlock State

    California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office

    Meet Jasmine Hatcher and Trishelle Copeland-Johnson
    Friday August 31, 2018, 02:05 PM

    Meet Jasmine Hatcher and Trishelle Copeland-Johnson

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Argonne hosts Modeling, Experimentation and Validation Summer School
    Friday August 24, 2018, 11:05 AM

    Argonne hosts Modeling, Experimentation and Validation Summer School

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Students affected by Hurricane Maria bring their research to SLAC
    Wednesday August 22, 2018, 01:05 PM

    Students affected by Hurricane Maria bring their research to SLAC

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Brookhaven Lab Pays Tribute to 2018 Summer Interns
    Wednesday August 22, 2018, 10:05 AM

    Brookhaven Lab Pays Tribute to 2018 Summer Interns

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Changing How Buildings Are Made
    Monday August 20, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Changing How Buildings Are Made

    Washington University in St. Louis

    CSUMB Selected to Host Architecture at Zero Competition in 2019
    Thursday August 16, 2018, 12:05 PM

    CSUMB Selected to Host Architecture at Zero Competition in 2019

    California State University, Monterey Bay

    Department of Energy Invests $64 Million in Advanced Nuclear Technology
    Friday July 20, 2018, 03:00 PM

    Department of Energy Invests $64 Million in Advanced Nuclear Technology

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Professor Miao Yu Named the Priti and Mukesh Chatter '82 Career Development Professor
    Thursday July 19, 2018, 05:00 PM

    Professor Miao Yu Named the Priti and Mukesh Chatter '82 Career Development Professor

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    2018 RHIC & AGS Annual Users' Meeting: 'Illuminating the QCD Landscape'
    Tuesday July 03, 2018, 11:05 AM

    2018 RHIC & AGS Annual Users' Meeting: 'Illuminating the QCD Landscape'

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Argonne welcomes <em>The Martian</em> author Andy Weir
    Friday June 29, 2018, 06:05 PM

    Argonne welcomes The Martian author Andy Weir

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Creating STEM Knowledge and Innovations to Solve Global Issues Like Water, Food, and Energy
    Monday June 18, 2018, 09:55 AM

    Creating STEM Knowledge and Innovations to Solve Global Issues Like Water, Food, and Energy

    Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

    Professor Emily Liu Receives $1.8 Million DoE Award for Solar Power Systems Research
    Friday June 15, 2018, 10:00 AM

    Professor Emily Liu Receives $1.8 Million DoE Award for Solar Power Systems Research

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Celebrating 40 years of empowerment in science
    Thursday June 07, 2018, 03:05 PM

    Celebrating 40 years of empowerment in science

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Introducing Graduate Students Across the Globe to Photon Science
    Monday May 07, 2018, 10:30 AM

    Introducing Graduate Students Across the Globe to Photon Science

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Students from Massachusetts and Washington Win DOE's 28th National Science Bowl(r)
    Wednesday May 02, 2018, 04:05 PM

    Students from Massachusetts and Washington Win DOE's 28th National Science Bowl(r)

    Department of Energy, Office of Science

    The Race for Young Scientific Minds
    Thursday April 12, 2018, 07:05 PM

    The Race for Young Scientific Minds

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Q&A: Al Ashley Reflects on His Efforts to Diversify SLAC and Beyond
    Wednesday March 14, 2018, 02:05 PM

    Q&A: Al Ashley Reflects on His Efforts to Diversify SLAC and Beyond

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Insights on Innovation in Energy, Humanitarian Aid Highlight UVA Darden's Net Impact Week
    Thursday February 15, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Insights on Innovation in Energy, Humanitarian Aid Highlight UVA Darden's Net Impact Week

    University of Virginia Darden School of Business

    Ivy League Graduate, Writer and Activist with Dyslexia Visits CSUCI to Reframe the Concept of Learning Disabilities
    Friday February 09, 2018, 11:05 AM

    Ivy League Graduate, Writer and Activist with Dyslexia Visits CSUCI to Reframe the Concept of Learning Disabilities

    California State University, Channel Islands

    Photographer Adam Nadel Selected as Fermilab's New Artist-in-Residence for 2018
    Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Photographer Adam Nadel Selected as Fermilab's New Artist-in-Residence for 2018

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

    Fermilab Computing Partners with Argonne, Local Schools for Hour of Code
    Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Fermilab Computing Partners with Argonne, Local Schools for Hour of Code

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

    Q&A: Sam Webb Teaches X-Ray Science from a Remote Classroom
    Wednesday December 20, 2017, 01:05 PM

    Q&A: Sam Webb Teaches X-Ray Science from a Remote Classroom

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    The Future of Today's Electric Power Systems
    Monday December 18, 2017, 01:05 PM

    The Future of Today's Electric Power Systems

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Supporting the Development of Offshore Wind Power Plants
    Monday December 18, 2017, 12:05 PM

    Supporting the Development of Offshore Wind Power Plants

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Stairway to Science
    Tuesday October 03, 2017, 01:05 PM

    Stairway to Science

    Argonne National Laboratory

    After-School Energy Rush
    Thursday September 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

    After-School Energy Rush

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach
    Thursday September 28, 2017, 10:05 AM

    Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM
    Thursday September 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

    From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory





    Showing results

    0-4 Of 2215