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2000 ASM Paper
(PDF Download)


Michael J. Sadowsky, Professor

John Ferguson,
Junior Scientist


The Department of Soil, Water, and Climate
Room 439 Borlaug Hall
1991 Upper Buford Circle
St Paul, MN 55108

E. coli Source Tracking by 
Rep-PCR DNA Fingerprinting

Elevated fecal coliform levels are found in many watersheds due to sources that include inadequate septic systems, run-off from pastures and manure treated agricultural land, and wildlife.

This Web site describes a method to identify source(s) of fecal contamination by DNA fingerprints generated using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and whole E. coli cells.

Fingerprints from E. coli strains isolated from local streams or lakes may be identified by comparison to our fingerprint database of E. coli strains isolated from known human and animal sources. A quick overview of the procedure (see background) and detailed protocols (see methods) are also available.

This work was partially supported by funding from:
  • The Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund through the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources

  • Metropolitan Council Environmental Services

  • The University of Minnesota

  • Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

  • Project cooperators included the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Metropolitan Council Environmental Services.

    A paper using this method has been published:
    Dombek, P.E., L.K. Johnson, S.T. Zimmerley, and M.J. Sadowsky. 2000. Use of repetitive DNA sequences and the PCR to differentiate Escherichia coli isolates from human and animal sources. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66:2572-2577.

    Note: The current protocol has been changed since our publication. We now use whole cells from single colonies grown on agar plates (see methods)

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