Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Biology; Human Rights

Project Advisor 1

Brooke Jude

Project Advisor 2

Thomas Keenan

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Cholera is an acute gastrointestinal disease caused by ingestion of water or food contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The disease heavily impacts populations without access to clean water, infecting an estimated 3-5 million people every year (WHO reports, 2012). It has been shown that V. cholerae has a strong binding affinity to chitin, a polymer of GlcNAc sugars that comprises the shells of crustaceans and plankton (Castro-Rosas et al. 2002, Kirn et al. 2005). By binding to chitinous surfaces, the bacterium is able to survive and grow in the aquatic environment. In this project, we propose a water filtration model that utilizes chitin as a substrate for the binding and extraction of V. cholerae from contaminated water. This was investigated through a series of attachment, adsorption, and filtration assays using the Haitian V. cholerae strain BAA2163.

Multiple attachment assays demonstrate that BAA2163 V. cholerae cells bind to different chitinous materials, such as chitin beads and flakes. This finding contributes to existing evidence on chitin binding in the Vibrio genus, and confirms that the strain BAA2163 is also capable of this mechanism. Adsorption experiments further demonstrated that the addition of chitin to water contaminated with V. cholerae lead to a significant decrease in the counts of free unadsorbed Vibrios in solution. Subsequent filtration of microcosms incubated with chitin provided an effective means for the extraction and overall reduction of V. cholerae in the filtrates.

Although we were able to establish an effective filtration method using chitin flakes, were not able to successfully replicate these results in preliminary assays on crawfish shell based filtrations. The results here presented thus provide a preliminary basis for future investigations aimed towards the development of this chitin-based V. cholera filtration model into a technique applicable in limited resource settings afflicted by cholera.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.