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Public Health
and Safety

Ecological Health

  Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring

Photo Credit: NJDEP

The Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring (BMWM or the Bureau) located in Leeds Point, NJ has three on-site laboratory facilities (Bacteriology, Chemistry, and Microbiology). Each lab contains its own unique set of equipment, tools, and staff expertise to handle complicated analyses related to coastal water quality. Sensitive laboratory procedures are conducted for the detection of bacteria, nutrients, viruses, and other parameters. These labs are crucial to the core mission of the Bureau in protecting both the health and safety of the public, along with understanding ecological water quality dynamics. See below for more details on each laboratories role within BMWM.

For a full list of certified parameters, click here.

Bacteriology Lab

The Bacteriology Laboratory analyzes thousands of samples per year for Fecal Coliform in support of the Bureau’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP). The results from this laboratory are used to classify coastal waters into specific shellfish harvest categories indicating where it is safe or unsafe to harvest shellfish. These classification statuses, as a result from the Bacti Lab’s analysis, are critical in protecting the public from unsafe shellfish consumption.

Chemistry Lab

The Chemistry Laboratory performs analysis on an entire suite of parameters. These include the typical Nitrogen and Phosphorus series, Chlorophyll, Salinity, Specific Conductance, Total Organic Carbon, Silica, and Turbidity. In addition to nutrient analysis, metals analysis can be performed on Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, and Nickel. The Chemistry Lab participates in a variety of ‘Special Projects’ throughout the state of NJ. They support multiple agencies in various projects that require the analysis of various parameters to better understand water quality characteristics along the coast.

Microbiology Lab

The Advanced Microbiology Laboratory offer laboratory testing services to support the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) and Centers of Disease Control (CDC). Testing in this Laboratory includes:

  • Vibrio Analysis To meet National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) guidelines for shellfish water classification, the laboratory tests for Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) and Vibrio vulnificus (Vv) in shellfish tissue. This testing helps protect both public health and the shellfish industry economy by preventing Vibrio-related sicknesses from shellfish consumption. Vp is an organism that occurs naturally in coastal waters. Elevated levels of this pathogen appear to be directly related to water and air temperature and post-harvest handling practices. Vp levels increase rapidly when shellfish are exposed to temperatures greater than 70F.

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    : Analysis of shellfish, harvesting waters and sediments for Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus using molecular methods DNA Probes and qPCR We use a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) procedure for the detection of DNA from Bacteroidales bacteria in the environment. It is based on the amplification and detection of a specific region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene from these organisms. We use markers specific for Human and Bovine Bacteriodes.

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    (Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction).

  • Microbial Source Tracking (MST) of pollution using Bacteriodes Bacteria of the Bacteroidales order are commonly found in the feces of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Although these organisms can be persistent in the environment, the presence of Bacteroidales in water is an indication of fecal pollution and the possible presence of enteric pathogens.

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    , Antibiotic Resistance Analysis The laboratory also performs microbial source tracking of pollution through F+ Coliphage and antibiotic resistance analysis. Results have allowed the laboratory to classify pollution sources into three main categories: human, domesticated animals and wildlife. Groups I and IV F+ Coliphage genotype is an indicator of animal fecal pollution while groups II and III is an indicator of Human fecal pollution. This is used in conjunction with Antibiotic Resistance Analysis to distinguish between domesticated animals or wildlife. Wildlife shows no resistance to the panel of 28 different antibiotics tested and thus narrows down potential remediation options.

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    , and Coliphage Coliphages are viruses that infect bacterial cells. Since they are similar in size, shape and morphology to Hepatitis E, Hepatitis A and Norwalk viruses, they are a good indicator of viral pathogens.

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    testing to classify pollution sources into categories of human, domesticated animal, or wildlife.

  • Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis The laboratory utilizes DNA gene probes to detect total (tlh) and pathogenic (tdh and trh) genes in Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp). Recently, Vibrio testing was upgraded to use qPCR (Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction) for the detection of these genes in both Vp and Vibrio vulnificus (Vv). Not only can the laboratory detect Vp and Vv in shellfish and environmental samples, it also carries out serotyping of Vp isolates as well as pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), a laboratory technique used by scientists to produce a DNA fingerprint for a bacterial isolate, in accordance to Centers of Disease Control (CDC) protocols.

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    to produce a DNA fingerprint for Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

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Last Updated: February 21, 2023