HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Jose Lopez, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christopher D. Sinigalliano, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Julie Torruellas Garcia, Ph.D.


Over 3.7 million people are in high risk of coastal flooding and live within 1 mile of high tide in the US alone. The Atlantic coast is one of the most vulnerable areas due to its low elevation, large population, and economic importance (Bray, et. al, 2016). Coastal municipalities in the region of Southeast Florida, such as the cities of Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, etc., are at especial risk from coastal flooding related to sea level rise. The US National Climate Assessment has named Miami, Florida as the economically most vulnerable city impacted by this sea level rise in the world (Melillo et. al, 2014). Virtually all coastal communities in Southeast Florida are now experiencing increased incidents of coastal tidal flooding and coastal storm flooding related to sea level rise. This has led to a variety of responses by coastal communities in how to address this issue. In the case of the City of Miami Beach, the city has [CS1] come up with an ambitious but expensive plan to help combat the increased urban coastal flooding that is now occurring multiple times a year. They invested over 500 million dollars into replacing the increasingly less-effective gravity-based drainage system with a pump-based system (Bray, et. al, 2016). With these influences, we hypothesized that microbial communities would significantly differ between three years (2014-2016) and that the potential pathogens would increase over the past years . Genetic analyses of the 16S rRNA V4 region yielded a total of 77,346 unique bacterial OTUs from a total of 96 samples collected monthly for three years from 2014-2016.

The most abundant OTU within the whole sample set was New.ReferenceOTU407 or Arcobacter in the Campylobacter family with an overall abundance of 0.008232535481%.The second most abundant organism in the sample set was Bacillus, or OTUNew.CleanUp.ReferenceOTU121132, with an overall abundance of .007797807097%. Bacillusmay cause many more foodborne illness than is known and one main reason that there is not more reported cases is because people do not seek medical attention (FDA 2012). The remaining pathogens except for Serratia, Pleisomonas, and Cronobacter were all with an abundance over .001%, with Salmonella, Yersinia,andListeria not being identified at all within the data set. By showing that genetic signatures for this bacterium, especially Arcobacter,was present in more than half of the samples stresses the importance of better understanding of the microbial population within South Florida waters and how to prevent or reduce future outbreaks by making sure the water is treated correctly before use, and to better identify potential exposure sources in water.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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