Biography: Sarah Allard
Concerns about availability and quality of agricultural water have strengthened US national interest in water reuse and
the exploration of non-traditional irrigation water sources. Ensuring the safety of these water sources for agricultural
use is a major priority. CONSERVE, a Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food and Health, is
midway through a 2-year sampling eff ort to characterize the quality of a variety of surface (river, pond) and nontraditional
(reclaimed wastewater, produce wash water, return fl ows) water sources in the Mid-Atlantic and Southwestern US. In this
talk, we compare the effi cacy of microbiological and molecular methods (16S rRNA gene sequencing, shotgun metagenomics,
and culture-based detection) in identifying foodborne pathogens from potential irrigation water sources in the Mid-Atlantic.
Culture-based detection methods remain the most eff ective for identifying human enteric pathogens, such as Salmonella
enterica and Listeria monocytogenes, from water samples. However, sequencing-based methods can be used to address the
ecological context of pathogens in irrigation water sources and may be useful for the detection of viable but non-culturable
organisms. Th erefore, a combination of approaches will likely lead to the most robust characterization of human pathogen
occurrence in the environment.